Huw M : Utica2015 : I Ka Ching
This is Huw M's third CD. The first 2009 release Os Mewn Sŵn was welsh language folk of the first order, the bilingual follow up Gathering Dusk (2011) was rightly shortlisted for the Welsh Music prize - from the lilt of first song The perfect silence to the quiet, tender closing For while I wait for you to sleep it is a work of subtle evoked shifts in mood and disarming musical ingenuity. It is somewhere up there with the very good.
Now Utica, puts Welsh folk together with early gospel influences. It is excellent, just exceptional.
Recorded 'as live' a great sense of intimacy has been captured in the music's production. It has a timelessness, now and then listening you could imagine you have stumbled into a Greenwich Village basement in the early 60s, and found a rare moment of musical innocence and wonder.
Starting with the melancholy of A house by the sea there is immediate almost fractured beauty in the harmonies and vocal interplay. The folk song Si hwi hwi has a well travelled heritage, aptly described as a Welsh spiritual lullaby, with shifting, soothing waves of vocals. The love gone wrong of I wanted you to cry is an expressive, country inflected call and response sung between Huw and Bethan Mai.
The early standard is never lost, each song has character and restrained grace, even the more up tempo Hold on, and throughout the gospel of Cardiff's Marshall sisters adds depth and emotional complexity. The production has you in the room with the musicians.
It finishes with the subdued refrain of Worried now, won't be worried long: "Time weighs heavy on my soul, Time wash away my woes". Poignant and a perfect ending.
HUW M I The House By The Sea (Green Man Session, 2013)