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Cerys Matthews TIR
on 2 August 2010
The name Cerys Matthews did not immediately register with me although I have heard it mentioned. Therefore, I listened to this recording with a total lack of prejudice.
The CD aims to "refresh" many Welsh favourites and includes Sosban Fach, The Ash Grove, Cwm Rhondda, Calon Lan, Ar Hyd Y Nos and Ar Lan Y Mor. It comes with a hard-covered booklet containing background notes and all the words in Welsh and English. There are some pleasant tracks here, generally sung with a gentle, breathy voice with that attractive tremulousness that some singers either cultivate or possess naturally. The performance has the assured delivery of someone who has sung a few songs.
After the first listening, I thought that here was a singer to whom I'd give floor space at my local folk club.
I don't hear pitch perfectly but surely it cannot be that the guitar is out of tune on some tracks? The guitar accompaniments are very simple and I would like to have heard something more adventurous without it becoming too obtrusive.
Oh dear! Then I looked up the name on and found that I had been listening to someone who was well-established and famous enough to have Bryn Terfel join her on one of the tracks (Migldi Magldi). This is one of the most pleasant on the CD. The acknowledgements thank Bryn Terfel and suggest, with tongue-in-cheek, I hope, that next time they sing Wagner together!
My other favourite tracks were Calon Lan (despite the guitar) and The Ash Grove where there is less of the breathy sound and the song is the better for it. I also enjoyed Ar Hyd Y Nos sung almost unadorned as the simple lullaby that it is.
I know Cerys spent time in Nashville but why the Country and Western approach to Bugeilio'r Gweneth Gwyn? It didn't help and the voice strained for the top notes. It was probably a good thing that Cerys did not attempt Cwm Rhondda in the rousing style in which it is usually sung but singing it like an intimate love song did nothing for me. Ar Lan Y Mor would have been better unaccompanied, for the toneless guitar and Dylan-style harmonica were sacrilege to this lovely song.
Then my attention was drawn to the huge publicity machine that supports and promotes Cerys Matthews. The recording company, agency and publicity are all controlled by Cerys Matthews and it just goes to show that many of the people can be fooled most of the time.
So I didn't really like it and I'm an opinionated old goat who has been proved wrong enough times.