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Kate Rusby - Angels and Men (Pure Records)
The wings are out for Christmas as Barnsley's favourite daughter pops down from the top of the tree to celebrate the festive season in song. Surrounding herself with members of her own touring band, including husband Damien O'Kane and accordion player Nick Cooke, both of whom also take care of production and mastering respectively, the songs bear all the hallmarks of a new Kate Rusby album, each of the thirteen selections treated to informed arrangements, including a seasonal brass section with Andrew Duncan at the helm, and fine performances throughout. There's a good mixture here, including Richard Thompson's uplifting We Sing Hallelujah, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne's timeless Let It Snow and Chris Sugden's playful The Ivy and the Holly, as well as the more traditional seasonal fare, Hark Hark, Sweet Chiming Bells and Deck the Halls. Notably, Kate also revives her own super hero Big Brave Bill who this time sets out to save Christmas, which will no doubt keep the kids happy. For me though, the golden bauble on this particular spruce, is Kate's reading of David Myles' Santa Never Brings Me a Banjo, featuring Union Station's Ron Block on banjo and Sierra Hull on mandolin. Christmas albums are not everybody's cup of Yorkshire tea, but this one will certainly be played on December 25th around this reviewer's house.