Monday, July 30, 2012
HUW M Gathering Dusk
Huw M's second album like his all-Welsh debut is released on Gwymon, home also to Richard James and The Gentle Good. And it's softly-sung, gentle folkiness nestles perfectly between the quiet reflections of this year's "Pictures In The Morning" from the former (but with less heartbreak and loss) and the lush, poised orchestrations of 2010's "Tethered For The Storm" from the latter. Amongst the 50:50 split of English and Welsh language songs on "Gathering Dusk", it is not unfanciful also to hear moments that make you think this could have been the album Sufjan Stevens followed up "Seven Swans" with, if he'd forsaken expansive grandiosity, stayed in introspective mode and decamped to the Welsh mountains - particularly the final sections of songs like 'Martha a Mair' or 'Hide Behind You' with their gorgeous and wordless male/female harmonies and banjo or trumpet accompaniment.
'Babushka, Wake Me!' may have an exclamation mark in the title but there is little urgent or dramatic about it. Like the rest of this ten track album, it has an unhurried, pastoral lilt. Huw M's vocals have a boyish innocence even when rolling over guttural Welsh syllables. Lyrics hint at powerful emotions or the end of relationships but the lasting mood is one of a relaxed stroll through a sunny Spring mid-morning. The orchestral flourishes - piano and cello in 'Chwyldro Tawel' or banjo and trumpet in 'Brechdanau Sgwar' - are restrained and subtle. It is an immensely accomplished and enjoyable record but a minor quibble: sometimes it feels too unrelenting in it's feel-good and balmy cheerfulness. At times I find myself yearning for some tragedy or doom (maybe one or two of those Welsh language songs are actually murder ballads?).