Have you ever wondered why there seems to be loads of Irish and Scottish music, but nothing from Wales?
Did you know that Deck the halls is a Welsh tune? And did you know that it comes from an ancient Celtic bardic tradition? In fact we have a whole ton of music, songs, and traditions that have ancient origins, including the Mari Lwyd and the world’s oldest harp music. So why has no-one heard it before? In this video we’ll be looking at the past, present and future of traditional music and customs in Wales, and where you can find the good stuff.
A very special thanks to Phyllis Kinney, Harri Llewelyn, Gerard Kilbride, Gwen Màiri, Jordan Price Williams, Welsh Whisperer, Calan, Angharad Jenkins, Patrick Rimes, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, and Emily Jane Coupland for your knowledge and your support! Ffwrnes Gerdd clips by Gethin Scourfield-Gerard KilBride for S4C
by Skye Butchard
Glasgow singer-songwriter Lizzie Reid arrives with a fully-formed sound on her debut EP, Cubicle. It’s a warm and intimate collection of folk and rock songs that showcases her clear skill for storytelling, and a surprisingly diverse range of sounds for a compact collection. The project documents a break-up, and her first same-sex relationship. But its welcoming homespun atmosphere acts as its hidden strength. Recorded at her home in ten days before the first lockdown in March, the project truly exists within that period of stasis.
“We were kind of disconnected by what was going on in the world,” Lizzie says during our Zoom call. “Everyone was freaking out about COVID and isolation, and we were in a completely different headspace. Lockdown came about two days after Oli [Barton-Wood, the record’s producer whose credits include Nilüfer Yanya and Molly Payton] left. I remember at the time thinking, ‘wow those ten days, what a long time to just be in the house.’ Little did I know that would be the next nine months of my life.”
Despite the intimate setting, there was an underlying pressure on the recording process. “We’d already announced that we were going to be releasing music this year so this needed to be the one,” Reid says. “I had recorded a few times with the idea of releasing, but it was never quite right, I felt like it could go one of two ways, but when it came down to it, this had to be the one. I’m a very anxious person… I do always have a sense of time. There was less of that because we were at home the whole time.”
That homely quality manifests through a wonderfully close recording. The gentle fingerpicked guitars of Always Lovely, the closeness of Reid’s breath on the mic – and even the gentle meowing of her cat Ivan at the end of Seamless – all offer heartfelt textures that might not have been captured without a home recording. The sense of home continues with her bandmates, with Reid’s cousin Catriona playing cello twice across the project.
It is certainly a marked contrast to his last album ‘The Beggar’, with a much warmer tone, albeit with a few lingering traces of melancholia.
‘A Friend of Mine’ opens the album beautifully with a charming ode to friendship which you could easily imagine sound tracking a Wes Anderson film. It’s followed by two heartfelt love songs, the tenderly romantic ‘Dancer In Your Eyes’, and ‘No Reason Why’, which has a childlike innocence to it. It may well be the album highlight and has an almost Beatles-esque melody.
A snippet of commentary from a nature documentary introduces ‘From A Dream’, a lament for the humble robin (the bird, not the songwriter) which somehow manages to sound both mournful and cheerful at the same time. “Can’t see the starlight/From the streetlight / Can’t tell the gutter from the stream / Can you tell the nightmare from the dream” sings Adams, contrasting pastoral and urban imagery. ‘Signs’ is probably the album’s most subdued and melancholic moment while ‘Market Convent Garden’ is a cover of a brilliant song by his father Chris Adams.Continue reading
Lankum performs live at WGBH’s Fraser Performance Studio in Boston. The Dublin-based group, consisting of Cormac MacDiarmada, Radie Peat, and brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, makes a special kind of Celtic folk music, mixing ambient textures with harmonies that harness astonishing power. In 2019, their album The Livelong Day won Album of the Year at the RTÉ Choice Awards.