This Is the Kit review – soaring new star of contemporary folk

The purest voice … Kate Stables of This Is the Kit.
The purest voice … Kate Stables of This Is the Kit. Photograph: Michael Bowles//Rex/Shutterstock

‘There are so many of you,” begins Kate Stables, AKA This Is the Kit, gazing out over the heaving crowd. After making a long-awaited breakthrough with 2015’s Bashed Out – which featured PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish and the National’s Aaron Dessner – last year’s Moonshine Freeze cemented the Winchester-born, Paris resident’s position as the rising star of contemporary folk. Although her music nods to Sandy Denny, Beth Orton and Robert Wyatt, she’s carving her own niche in a notoriously tough field. Her songs veer from achingly stripped down – just voice and banjo – to deliciously more complex, with layers of trumpet, clubbier grooves and psychedelic folk mantras.

Smiling and chatting about mundanities from her amplifier to her lunch – or lack of it (“There was nothing I fancied – I’m very fussy”) she is the epitome of understated, determined power. Similarly, her music is like a pretty country house with all manner going on below stairs. The sublime Bullet Proof seems to address someone who clammed up following damaging relationships (“Prove to me that you feel”). Two Pence Piece finds blood in her mouth and on her boots, while the mysteriously ethereal Show Me So dazzlingly describes “the vomiting, the heat of your skin, the shock soaking in”. The purity of her voice keeps the audience rapt, and she exits with cheers to the rafters. “This is amazing,” she cries, humbled. She’ll need to get used to it.

• At Cyprus Avenue, Cork, 16 January. Box office: 353 21 427 6165. Whelan’s, Dublin, 17 January. Box office: 353 1 478 0766. Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 18 January. Box office: 0113 275 2411. Then on UK tour to 1 March, see thisisthekit.co.uk for details.

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