YAYYY hey all you lovely people! 😁🎊
It’s very happy times in Bibielland right now, because Gwilym Bowen Rhys – one of my faza people – has released a new album, the second one in his series of Detholiad o Hen Faledi (Selection of Old Ballads)! Something like this is always a huge event in Bibielland, not only simply because it’s a new album so most people who are into someone’s music would be naturally thrilled in such situation, but also because with my other faza people, I haven’t been quite as lucky in terms of their new albums. My first faza peep has been Enya, and she is very well-known for working for years on any new release, sometimes it takes so long that people start wondering whether she’ll actually release anything new. And so at the time when she was my dominant faza, I didn’t get to enjoy any new release from her, it was only after my faza on her has faded into the background that she released Dark Sky Island. Then there was Declan, who at the time of my dominant faza on him was studying and had a long break from his musical activity. And then there was Cornelis, who has left this world even before I came on it, so even though what he has left has always seemed to me like one huge, endlessly fertile well of creativity because he has recorded and written so extremely much, and then there are all the live recordings and lots of other things, and I kept stumbling upon something new to me all the time and even still do sometimes, there was obviously no hope for anything that would be actually, objectively new. So until Gwilym, the experience of my dominant faza peep releasing something new was unknown to me, and that’s why I feel absolutely spoilt by Gwilym. 😀 Especially when he released Detholiad O Hen Faledi I in July of 2018, and then Arenig in May 2019, so there wasn’t even a whole year between the two albums. I was as thrilled as if a young child would have been if she learned that she could have two big birthday parties in one year. 😀 We did have to wait for this new album nearly three years, I’m sure at least in some part due to Covid, but that makes it even more exciting.
I don’t know how these things work or whether perhaps I’ve missed something, but from what I’ve heard he has actually released it on March 1 (so Dydd Gwyll Dewi, or st. David’s Day in English, in case you don’t know st. David is a patron saint of Wales), except it seemed like it was still only available to preorder, until march 8 when I got an email that it’s available now. One of the best presents I could think of for myself for International Women’s Day, haha! I suppose if I really wanted I could have listened to it earlier directly from Bandcamp’s website, but I have to have the right conditions when listening to albums of my faza peeps for the first time so that I can absorb it thoroughly. Even on the day when I got it, I was waiting until the evening so that I could give it the first thorough listen in complete peace and once I did, needless to say, I enjoyed it very much, though a few more thorough listens are still due. I was already familiar with two of the songs featured on this album, as I’ve heard him singing them live on several occasions, but was looking forward to hearing the album versions nonetheless.
Moreover, last night, something made me tune into BBC Radio Cymru, which I hadn’t listened to in quite a while, and what was my surprise to hear Gwilym Bowen Rhys live! 🙂 I didn’t even know that it was going to happen, as I didn’t even go on Twitter yesterday, which is the only social mediumm I use, if lurking passes as using, and where I follow both Gwilym and BBC Radio Cymru. I don’t know how much of it I could have missed as I joined in at 8:30 UK time, but even if I missed something, I could still enjoy half an hour of Gwilym performing mostly songs from his debut album O Groth Y Ddaear (From THe Earth’s Womb) together with his frequent collaborators – Patrick Rimes on fiddle and Gwen Màiri Yorke on harp. – I was a bit surprised that he was singing only songs from his debut album, but it turned out that the reason for this concert was the 40th anniversary of a Welsh traditional record label called Fflach, with whom he released that particular album. After having been spoilt so much, it was only natural that I’ve ended up having a small faza peak, even though Gwilym is no longer my dominant faza peep. In fact, I’m actually surprised that I’m only having a small peak, I guess after so much exciting stuff my brain should be skyrocketing. But any peak, even the smallest is always welcome.
ANyways, enough of me, let’s get to this new album and the song from it that I want to share with you all. As I’ve already said and as its name implies, Detholiad o Hen Faledi II is the second album in the Detholiad o Hen Faledi series, compiling old, often nearly forgotten Welsh ballads, in minimalistic arrangements, in most cases either accompanied only by guitar or sung a capella. Like its predecessor, it was produced by Aled Wyn Hughes (known for example from the band Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog) at Stiwdio Sain and released by Erwydd Records, a branch of Sbrigyn Ymborth.
So far I feel like my favourite tune from this album is the closing one, called Deio Bach, or Little Deio in English, which is also one of the two tunes that I’ve heard him perform before. I also decided to pick this one for this post because the album is not yet available on any streaming services or anything like that, so unfortunately I can’t share the album version of any of the songs with you, but this particular song can be found on YouTube in several live versions. The first time I heard it was on BBC Radio Cymru in a programme hosted by Lisa Gwilym, where she talked with Gwil about his upcoming performance at one of the Folk on Foot Festivals online, where he was also going to sing this song. I had the great pleasure of listening to that Festival as well.
I am not at all easily moved to tears, as in by something that is beautiful, even though sometimes I’d like it to be the case because I think it could be quite cathartic when I do find something emotionally moving. Yet, when hearing Gwilym perform this song at Folk on Foot, I found myself very dangerously close to tears when listening in particular to the last verse, even though my understanding of the lyrics was a bit patchy. I still find this song and the mother’s sorrow and hiraeth in it incredibly moving.
From what I’ve heard and understood, Gwilym first heard this song performed by Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog to a different melody (that is a beautiful interpretation as well and I might share it with y’all some other time, who knows) and then some time later found a version sung by an acclaimed late soprano singer called madam Megan Telini, and he sings it to the same melody as she did. The song was written by John Jones of Llangollen, from the perspective of a mother whose son – Deio (my best guess is that it must be yet another variation on Dafydd/David) – has emigrated to America.
The translation you can find below, as always in case of Gwilym’s songs that I share on my blog, comes from Gwilym’s website.
I raised a little and dear boy
on my bosom with great pains.
Deio, you are that boy,
I wonder where you are now.
often you are on my mind,
dear boy, are you healthy?
If it isn’t too much to ask,
send a letter little Deio.
tough is my piece of bread,
yes, tough and scarce,
whilst my child, I do hope
is with his bread of white wheat.
My dear boy, whilst you are by your table
without sickness or weakness,
if it isn’t too much to ask,
remember about your mother’s poor fare.
If you can’t come over,
If you can’t assist me in any way,
I dare to ask you one thing,
maybe you will give me that -
I’m not asking for a grave stone,
this is too much, despite the longing farewell,
just shed a tear in my memory,
only a tear little Deio.