THE 40-year-old folk singer songwriter is in sombre mood. With a cover featuring Rusby in a white dress in half-shadow, the album's full of string-laden melodies that will haunt you long afterwards.

The opener, The Outlandish Knight, is an accordion-accompanied traditional folk ballad (arranged by Rusby and husband Damien O'Kane) about a lady fair getting revenge for six drowned maidens, while The Youthful Boy tells of "a false-hearted lover", and The Bonnie Bairns is a ghost story, whose sorrowful lines are echoed mournfully by a flute and violin.

The Magic Penny is a stand-out in an album of stand-outs, a traditional yarn about a gambler with an incredible run of luck, while the title track tells of a lost love. She's simply an extraordinary talent.

Rusby plays at York Barbican on Friday, December 12. Box office: 0844-854-2757 or and Harrogate International Centre on Friday, December 19. 01423-502-116

Kate Whiting