By Will Hermes
December 19, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Underneath the Stars


British rappers like Dizzee Rascal and the Streets may have trouble getting respect here in America, and rightly so — but we must bow to British folkies: For once, we appropriated their music rather than the other way around. Rusby is at the top of a group of young artists revitalizing the U.K. folk scene, and while less fusion-minded than peers like Eliza Carthy or Thea Gilmore, she’s more pure singer than any of them, and her ability to write originals that sound 300 years old is remarkable. Her latest is fetching as usual, especially when pal Eddi Reader drops in on harmony. A few more nods to the 20th and 21st centuries would be nice (past covers of songs by Richard Thompson and Iris DeMent have been standouts), but soaking in her wonder of a voice is a timeless pleasure. MUSICAL GODMOTHERS Records by 1960s British folk revivalists Anne Briggs and Shirley Collins (see the recently released Within Sound boxed set) are a good — nay, great — introduction to Rusby’s world.

Underneath the Stars

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