Kate Rusby, Philosophers, Poets & Kings (Pure Records) ****

PHILOSOPHERS, Poets & Kings is Barnsley folk nightingale Kate Rusby’s 17th studio album and one of her very best.

Here she pays homage to her family, so steeped in folk; the musical heritage she treasures and protects; and the home life built around fellow musician Damien O’Kane, their daughters and dogs.

O’Kane, her co-producer, has been steadily broadening Rusby’s folk template, most notably introducing Duncan Lyall’s electronic Moog, Josh Clark’s percussion and programming and Anthony Davis’s synths.

Still there is room aplenty for more traditional guest contributions: Ross Ainslie’s and Michael McGoldrick’s whistles; Ron Block’s banjo; Rich Evans’ flugelhorn and Gary Wyatt’s cornet.

Sam Kelly duets with Rusby on As The Lights Go Out; The Barnsley Youth Choir gathers for the closing hymnal Halt The Wagons. Bring all this together, and Rusby’s collection of 12 songs becomes the most diverse of her career at 45.

Her admiration for Richard Thompson is long-standing, so her faithful interpretation of Thompson and Dave Swarbrick’s Crazy Man Michael is far less surprising than her sparse setting of Liam Gallagher’s Oasis anthem, Don’t Go Away, pared back to O’Kane’s electric tenor guitar, as first heard in a session for Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show. “This song has magic powers I’m convinced,” says Rusby. She’s right, but a finale from her “brass boys” would have been even more magical.

Of her own compositions, the nocturnal peace of Until Morning is lovely; the bibulous jaunty title track is a pearl, and the two versions of Jenny, one trad, the other for dancing, vie to be the best.

Charles Hutchinson