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Bendigedig BENDI1

Musician, poet and singer Gwyneth Glyn here returns to her native (Welsh) tradition and original writing following her contribution to the Songs Of Separation project and fruitful cross-cultural collaborations with ghazal singer Tauseef Ahktar and kora player Seckou Keita. The latter ventures have clearly informed the music on Tro (literally “turn”, but capable of many layers of meaning) – the inspired, slightly jazzy final track intriguingly combines one of Seckou’s compositions with a Welsh folk song – but there are other, arguably more subliminal global influences. That said, the predominant quality of Gwyneth’s music is an elegant and beautiful poetic sensibility allied to a gentle exoticism; this too is faithfully rendered through the sympathetic production by Dylan Fowler (who also plays a number of instruments on the album including dobro, kantele and mbira) and further enabled by the contributions of guest musicians including Rowan Rheingans (banjo, bansitar), Patrick Rimes (violin), Gillian Stevens (viol and crwth), and the above-mentioned Seckou Keita.

The majority of the album’s 13 tracks are sung in Welsh, and naturally capitalise on the unique nuances and characteristics of a language which is often (unfairly) regarded as impenetrable – although it must be said that detailed perusal of the lyrics and translations in the accompanying booklet will be considered essential for full appreciation of the special poetic qualities of Gwyneth’s writing (in either language). Ffair is Gwyneth’s enterprising arrangement and translation of She Moved Through The Fair, an eerie, spellbinding rendition that emphasises the supernatural element in a drifting, transparent setting of chilling beauty. The remaining three of Gwyneth’s original songs are sung in English, and impress with their telling phrasing and meaningful economy of expression. I wouldn’t dream of underplaying Gwyneth’s intimate, singular and creative poetic vision.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.