Many thanks to Celia Rees - I started teaching her wonderful YA novel Pirates! this week, and on the book's website, she lists some of the songs she used as inspiration, including I Courted a Sailor by Kate Rusby, which sent me back to this wonderful singer. I bought Sleepless when it first came out years ago but didn't really get into her. Then I youtubed her and ended up downloading Hourglass, her first collection of songs. On which there is the heartbreaking I am stretched on your grave, a song that sends shivers up and down my spine and calls up all sorts of images to mind. Rusby has a voice that is smooth but raspy and the accompanying musicians - accordion, flute, fiddle and acoustic guitar, produce a rich, evocative layering of sound that is pure magic. A whole catalogue of loveliness awaits.
Somehow, I've managed to download some additional widget for iTunes called Genius which is meant to provide recommendations (ahem, get you to go and spend more money, perhaps their fight back against amazon going the downloadable route). But Genius is currently sending me apologies that it isn't working fully and btw here's the list of top 10 downloads, featuring Beyonce and Britney. But being in the mood for folk, the idea of listening to the bouncy vacuous beats seems utterly risible.
It was with a shock that I realised that I knew I am stretched on your grave from both Dead Can Dance and Sinead O'Connor's versions, but the song never grabbed me by the throat and shook me until I heard Rusby's version. Curious how some voices, some arrangements of sound just go right to one's heart, or rather whatever strange part of our brains it is where we respond to music.