Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eirlys Rhiannon - Sleep (Unlabelled Label for Irregular Records)

It starts with a Crazy World. It’s is a lovely drunken lurch of a song, that put me in mind of the taste of cider on a late night hay ride. Whatever one of those is. The backing for the smiling sleepy vocals is sparse and loose – Eirlys on guitar and Rowan Armes on fiddle. Rowan's playing is excellent. She starts by plucking a counter melody and it’s a great sound: fuller than a banjo and less irritating than a mandolin. Then she picks up the bow and lets loose, but without swamping the tune. So nice to listen to an accomplished musician who listens as well as they play. She also adds simple piano accompaniment on the tracks plot and come home again this works well

The plucked fiddle absolutely perfect on Fahrenheit. This is a bit of an epic that starts with a gentle kind of menace that builds up and up wonderfully. Sorry but the djembe freak-out at the end is like a waiter’s dreadlock dangling in your soup – unnecessary and lacking taste.

The more upbeat songs such as Chasing Hope and Packer’s Field missed me a bit. They sound a little overplayed and compared to the other tracks, they’re just a bit too strident and earnest. There’s definitely an element of old fashioned radical mung bean politicking going on here but it generally doesn’t detract from the music. Apart from the Djembe.

I try not to read lyric sheets. It's much better to catch odd phrases and put them together gradually into a jigsaw of familiarity. Eirlys rewards this method but when I got to Calon Lan, sung beautifully unaccompanied, I was forced to look at the lyric sheet, as it's all in foreign. Happily there's a translation and the meaning is as lovely as the sound.

I really like this album even though it’s not the sort of thing I usually go for. It lies somewhere in the space between Natalie Merchant, The Be Good Tanyas and a Reclaim the Streets Demonstration. That’s not a bad place to be at all.

For more information on the music of Eirlys Rhiannon or to buy a copy of her album Sleep visit her web site or her myspace page.

Reviewer: CP Mandrake

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