Kate Rusby is, occasionally, allowed out of the realm of folk ballads, and has even been known to listen to music created in her own lifetime. There’s a preconception burst. During an appearance on Jo Whiley’s show the Barnsley nightingale recorded a cover of ‘Don’t Go Away‘, originally by Oasis which was later to appear on the album ‘Philosophers, Poets and Kings.‘ Roll forward a few years, throw in a pandemic lockdown, and an album of cover versions was conceived.
‘Hand Me Down‘ is the album that emerged, and it’ll be released on Rusby’s own Pure Records label on August 14th. Kate Rusby doesn’t see anything strange about the project, saying “As a folk singer, it’s what I do, re-interpret existing songs, but usually the songs are much, much older.” The Oasis cover had proved popular on tour and so, she adds, ” it dawned on me that not just the very old songs are handed down through the generations, but also favourite songs of any age, of any generation. Songs are precious for many different reasons.”
Lockdown was the spur to completing an all covers album, because, as Kate Rusby explained the songs “all have a homemade feel, which is how a ‘lockdown’ album should sound I suppose, we could only use what we had to hand (it just so happens I have a very talented multi-instrumentalist husband, yey!) so bar the odd part from a band member recorded remotely, it’s all myself and Damien O’Kane, but that was actually our plan all along. What we hadn’t planned on, was our two daughters – Daisy Delia aged 10 and Phoebe Summer aged 8 – having to come to the studio with us! Recording and home schooling are working out surprisingly well. We hope the songs will bring some smiles in these dark times.”
Obviously we should have saved the following until the start of next week – but that would be predictable, and that’s so not Americana UK. In advance of the album proper Kate Rusby has released a couple of singles, ‘Friday I’m in Love‘ and ‘Manic Monday‘, the last complete with homemade video. Whether it was inspired by the Fripp/Toyah lockdown videos we can’t say, but it does feature a man in a tutu. Looks like that’s going to be going down as a lockdown trope too.