Album: Kate Rusby <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

The Girl Who Couldn't Fly, PURE
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The Independent Culture

It's no secret that life can be pretty wretched in traditional folk songs, what with all the lovelorn maidens and evil aristos - not to mention an impressive body count - but there seems too little variation in tone on The Girl Who Couldn't Fly. In "A Ballad", a spurned maiden watches her beloved wed another on what should have been her "bridal morn", then "slumbers with the dead"; in "Bonnie House Of Airlie", the lady of the house is forced to watch as it is razed by Airlie's enemy; in "Mary Blaize", the eponymous philanthropist dies alone, despite her wealth and good deeds; and so on, a catalogue of gloom and misery. Rusby's own songs, too, fall prey to the grim tropes of the medium, with the long-time couple in "No Names" facing separation - through impending death, one surmises - and a dead spirit yearning for its former love in "The Lark": "Time it is past now and I roam free/ Is it wrong to wish you still need me?" The cheeriest moment of the album is the cheeky gambling/sex metaphor of "The Game of All Fours", in which a lad and a maiden meet on the highway and engage in a cosy two-hander, before opting to meet up again the next day and "play the game over and over and over and over and over again".

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