Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Deio Bach” (Little Deio).

   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.

Harmony Yemanya – “Hiraeth Am Feirion” (Longing For Meirionethshire).

Hey people! 🙂

Today I’d like to share with you a traditional song I’ve recently heard, from an artist who is very new to me. I heard her for the first time on Blas Folk Radio Cymru.

Harmony Yemanya is the artistic name of Hilary Davies, who is a flautist, singer, songwriter and composer based in Gwynedd and London. This particular song that I want to show you though, is, just like I said, her rendition of a traditional tune. I was wondering where her artistic name came from and it seems like there is some, I guess Nigerian, goddess named Yemaya and one of the way to spell her name is also Yemanya so perhaps it’s in relation to that.

The song is about one’s longing to a (now historic) county in northwestern Wales, which is called Meirionethshire in English.

I managed to find a translation of this song into English, on the website of a Welsh band called Ffynnon

and here it is:

 

There is a mountain in the sea which hides Meirioneth

I had sight of it once only before it broke my heart

Wind from the sea and sun from the mountain

Grey rocks instead of trees

And gulls instead of people

I will make a boat of the oak of love

And its mast, the wood of experience

And put longing in its sail to make it go

Wave to wave to my own land

 

Martha Wainwright – “Proserpina”.

Hi guys! 🙂

This is a very special song for me. I discovered it thanks to Spotify some 2 years ago and it spoke to me very strongly immediately. It’s because I feel a strong connection to Proserpina/Persephone from Roman/Greek mythology. I feel a connection to her because her story, of her being forced to live in Hades for half a year, and half a year with her mother, reminded me in a lot of ways about my own situation when I was at the boarding school and away from my family most of the time. I heard this story during a Polish lesson and I immediately felt a bond with Persephone and her mother. Especially that I’ve always been interested in myths, legends and fairytales. This connection has lasted and a couple years later, when I was still at school, I suddenly got a spurt of creativity at night – as it often happened back then because I felt the most free to let my thoughts and feelings out through writing at night – and I wrote a short story about Proserpina on my Braille-Sense, and called it just that, “Proserpina”, I think Proserpina sounds better than Persephone. I wrote this story because I thought that it’s a shame that the myth seems to focus so much on what Ceres/Demeter felt, I mean it is very good and I feel for her very deeply, but we can actually only imagine what Proserpina must have felt while her mother was trying to find her and losing her mind from grief and despair. And it was one of the few short stories that I didn’t delete just after writing, as I usually do, but I’ve also never read it to anyone. I was maybe 14 or something at the time but looking back at it I think it was really fairly decent, compared with my other writings that I remember from that time, which make you wonder whether you should laugh or cry, so cringey they are. 😀

So, while I’d never listened to Martha Wainwright’s music before, Spotify can sometimes have that weird intuition and suggest you something that is reall spot on for you and you wonder how it happened if you don’t really listen to similar stuff a lot. Well, Martha Wainwright is definitely folksy but I have only a very vague idea about Canadian folk scene. I am not a big fan of her, I mean I don’t dislike her or anything, I guess I just feel neutral, but this song has always been very special for me since I know it, I love both the topic of it and the lyrics, as well as how it sounds. So here it is, I hope you like it too, and maybe it will speak to someone else as well, whether in a similar or a completely different way as me. I think the story of Ceres and Proserpina is also very relatable for families affected by child loss. Regarding Martha Wainwright herself, she comes from a very musical family, her mother is another folk singer Kate MCGarrigle from Kate & Anna MCGarrigle duo, and there are a lot of other musicians and artists in her family as well.

Janice – “Answer”.

Hi guys. 🙂

The song I have for you today is from Swedish singer Janice Kamya Kavander, known simply as Janice. She’s becoming very popular in Sweden, and there is something powerful in her voice. I am generally not like a big fan of very soul-like sounding voices, except for Amy Winehouse and maybe a couple other people, but I do like Janice and her expressiveness. And I must say this particular song really moved me when I heard it.

It is about, or to, Janice’s dad, who died five years ago. For me, when I first heard her, she sounded rather mature, as her voice is so strong and expressive, but turns out she’s only 24, so she was 19 when her dad died. That’s very early and no wonder it affected her even more than it would affect someone later on in life. And this song is so full of expression, I think it’s hard to not feel even just a little bit moved. There are lots of versions on Youtube, but I like it particularly in the acoustic version, which is only on Spotify, so, again, I have to only give you the link to Spotify.

Frida Andersson – Jag Saknar Dej (I Miss You_.

This is a beautiful song in my opinion. I’ve translated the title as “I Miss You”, but in fact it is “I Lack You”, though I wasn’t sure if such phrase actually exists and is natural in English, it doesn’t look like it is. There even is a line in the song that “I don’t miss having you here any longer, but I lack you”, so I guess we should differentiate missing from lacking. So do Swedes, so do we Poles, and maybe the Anglophones do as well but I just don’t know. 😀 As for Frida Andersson, she is the moreinteresting for me that she is from Finland, and she is a Swedish native-speaker. For those of you who don’t know, yes, there is a Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, of people who speak Swedish as their first language, and Swedish is also another official language of Finland after Finnish, and also is teached in school as a second language, compulsory, I guess, and don’t worry if you didn’t know it and think you’re ignorant, because I – a Swedophile and Finnophile – didn’t know it until just like 2-3 years ago, I learned about it years after my fascination with the Swedish language started. That’s ignorance! 😀 And even my Dad – who is a very good geographer and taught me capitals of all the European countries and which currencies they have and other stuff – he was very surprised when I told him that. Finns are way too secretive. 😀 I say it’s interesting because Finnish accent in Swedish sounds very interesting. It’s actually cute and funny to me, doesn’t sound so serious, elegant and regal as Swedish in Stockholm for example. I like it, I like different words they have for things, like for example in standard Swedish the phrase a little bit is “lite”, but Finns often say “pikulite”. Or they have a word “pirrig”, which means jittery (or something like this 😀 ) and from what my teacher told me it’s used by Swedish-speaking Finns, though I’ve seen it used bo non Finns too.

Anyway, putting my Finnophilic musings aside, I was going to, and tried, to make translation of these lyrics, as they’re not very difficult to understand, but I find it rather tricky to translate stuff from Swedish to English or vice versa, so I left it, still though, the song is beautiful.

Catrin Finch – Lisa Lân (Fair Lisa).

Hi! 🙂

Another tune from Catrin Finch I want to share with you. It’s just so stunningly beautiful. Not so long ago, I showed you the same song performed by the band Alaw and my current music crush, Gwilym Bowen Rhys. That one was a song, not an instrumental, so if you haven’t seen it before, you can check out, as well as the lyrics

here

Catrin Finch’s version is a harp solo arrangement of this traditional Welsh love song and it’s very creative and beautiful and relaxing and just so sooo beautiful it makes my brain melting and falling to pieces almost as much as Gwilym’s version.

Here it is: