Mim Twm Llai,
Straeon y Cymdogion
(Crai, 2005)

Mim Twm Llai is the alter ego of Gai Toms, guitarist for the Welsh band Anweledig. On this, his second CD for the Caernarfon label Crai, the North-Wales based singer-songwriter straddles the line between folk and pop in the manner of the legendary Welsh folksinger Meic Stevens.

Like Stevens, Toms puts a lot of himself and his home and surroundings into his music, thus the CD title, which translates as "Stories of the Neighbours." Also like Stevens, his music is rough-edged, but catchy, with repetitive hooks that get you singing along.

His repertoire has some variety to it. On tunes such as "O lle ga i eda (where can I get some thread)," he sounds like a singer in need of some patching up. Toms also shows he can carry a nice ballad on "Cymorthin." The Stevens influence is evident on the rhythmic "Arwain i'r mor (leading to the sea)," one of the best and most hummable tracks.

Toms gets a nice hand from his friends as well. Lending a hand on lead vocals on the lullaby "Si Hei Lwli Sali" is Elaine Gelling. The multi-talented Sian James does a nice job backing Toms on "Y Pen Blywydd (the birthday)" on piano.

Toms himself picks up a number of instruments on this worthwhile CD, including percussion, guitar, keyboards, banjo, harmonica and drums, and that's just on the title track. And he writes all the Welsh-language lyrics and the music, as well.

by David Cox
17 February 2007

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