Kate Rusby and….Ronan Keating?

by Harry on May 24, 2006

I took Little Lights out of the local library a couple of years ago on the way to pick up my daughter. I was almost late; hearing Kate Rusby singing “Withered and Died” had me almost in tears and I had to pull of the road to compose myself. I don’t think there is a more beautiful voice in popular music than hers; better even than Christine Collister‘s. Oh, except that neither of them are singers of popular music; they are folk singers; Rusby more so than Collister.

Until now, it appears. Kate Rusby teaming up with Ronan Keating is the most unlikely thing to happen in popular music since Robbie Williams simultaneously plagiarised Woody Guthrie and Loudon Wainwright III. The single comes out in the UK on Monday, and Radio 2 has already decided to make it a hit. If I could buy stock in a singer, it would be Rusby. And if I wanted to appear to be cool I’d stock up on all her records (UK)… except that I’ve no interest at all in seeming cool, and I’ve already stocked up.



dave heasman 05.24.06 at 11:20 am

One thing I learned from a misspent middle-age of nearly fulltime ligging, is that the categories that “pop” music fans use are seldom recognised by the “artists”. It’s unlikely that Rusby & Keating feel they’re in incompatible genres. I’ve known bubblegum groups who had free-jazz friends. Etc.

I finally heard Karl Wallinger’s original of “She’s the One” yesterday. R Williams’ version obviously had to be tweaked to keep him in tune, but it’s OK.


harry b 05.24.06 at 2:40 pm

Right, I just heard the Nazareth cover of This Flight Tonight on Sounds of the Seventies, evidently made with love. And apparently Keating approached Rusby to do the duet; it was his idea, not that of some producer or whatever. Still, the greatest traditional folk singer of the last 30 years teaming up with a boy-band leftover? I’m delighted, and hope she becomes the star she deserves to be. But it’s very odd.

Collister doesn’t fit any category really, and I wish she’d have made it big, but if you’ve seen her on stage (which I have several times) you can see why she hasn’t; her voice could almost make you believe there’s a god after all, but on stage she is shy and awkward — she just doesn’t have the personality for stardom (which makes me like her all the more). Rusby has the voice and the stage presence (judging from the youtube videos).


dave heasman 05.24.06 at 4:59 pm

Likewise June Tabor, and Norma Winstone. Great voices for radio. Ian Shaw even more so.


Jake 05.24.06 at 5:56 pm

I remember once walking out into a winter rainstorm wearing no jacket nor even a long-sleeved shirt in order to avoid hearing Sandy Denny sing “Farewell” while I was in the company of other people.


antirealist 05.24.06 at 7:38 pm

Me too Jake. I’m not quite dead yet, but AFAICT this problem is lifelong, although the stimuli might change over time and from person to person.

As far as Nazareth is concerned, Emmylou Harris’ cover of “Love Hurts” is more than sufficient to justify their existence. They should be proud. And who can choose between Rusby’s version of “Our Town” and the Iris DeMent original?


lalala 05.24.06 at 7:56 pm

Huh. I’ve never listened to any of Kate Rusby’s music, largely because some musician friends whose opinions I respect very much have expressed a view that she’s schlocky. Guess maybe I should give her at least a quick try.


bob mcmanus 05.24.06 at 8:51 pm

“I respect very much have expressed a view that she’s schlocky”

A little bit schlocky I think, she doesn’t stand out for me like Collister. Rusby may be a little in the vast commercial Celtic mode of the Maire Brennans etc.

I like Patty Griffin a lot. Gillian Welch, Over the Rhine, Kristy MacColl(may flights of angels),Chris & Carla just to throw names that are more recent than the birth of the PC.

Did a smackdown test on versions of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” once. Sandy beat even Nina Simone and Eva Cassidy.


harry b 05.24.06 at 9:32 pm

Well, I’m hardly in a position to defend her against charges of schlock, given that she’s teamed up with Keating! And my aesthetic judgment may not be worth much. But you really should give her a try at least. Collister too.

I can’t bear to listen to Sandy sing “Who Knows..”. Yes, it is the best by far.


dave heasman 05.25.06 at 3:48 am

Hey Anti-R : –

“As far as Nazareth is concerned, Emmylou Harris’ cover of “Love Hurts” is more than sufficient to justify their existence”

er “Love Hurts” is a 1960 song written by the Bryants and recorded then by the Everlys & also by Roy Orbison. Nazareth fulfil the role of the Vanilla Fudge, executing unlikely versions of implausibly-selected standards.


chris y 05.25.06 at 6:33 am

Dave Heasman, are you suggesting Ian Shaw doesn’t have stage presence? If he gave up singing (god forbid), he could make a tidy living as a stand up.


dave heasman 05.25.06 at 6:40 am

Dave Heasman, are you suggesting Ian Shaw doesn’t have stage presence…

Stage presence yes. Fetching features, not so much. Mind you I haven’t seen him live for about 6 years, and consider “jazz singing” a bit of an oxymoron..


nick s 05.26.06 at 8:24 am

Schlocky? Only to the folkier-than-thou crowd that does its best to keep people away from the genre.

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