Tudur Morgan,
Naw Stryd Madryn
(Bocswn, 2004)

Cymru-Wales has some wonderful musicians, most little known outside the Welsh-speaking market. One is producer-guitarist Tudur Morgan of Ynys Mon.

Morgan is better known for contributing a clear acoustic sound to the music of such Welsh luminaries as Dafydd Iwan and Plethyn. This, his first solo effort, was produced independently.

On this popular-folk recording, the Llangefni native explores his own territory, on a disc professionally produced, arranged and mixed by the artist. He contributes many of his own music and lyrics; other than one lyric by Welsh poet Myrddin ap Dafydd, the rest is traditional. He explores the nether region between folk, country and pop in this appealing crossover recording.

Morgan plays it fairly safe on this solo CD, trying for a popular hook on such tunes as "Roisin" and "Nia" (nice Celtic names!) with backing vocals on the chorus. On other tunes ("Y deryn du," "Lisa Lan") he goes in a folkier direction.

He writes about his home, the island of Ynys Mon (Anglesea) in North Wales, exploring the history, links with Ireland, northwest England and Welsh traditions. The CD title is actually the Welsh translation of the address of Ringo Starr's birth home in Liverpool. The title song recollects Morgan's youth in 1964 with events such as the Kennedy assassination getting a mention.

On "Y Copar Ladis (The Copper Ladies)" he makes the link with women who worked in the copper mines of Parys Mountain (Amlwch) centuries ago, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution; the women who sang this song mined copper on Ynys Mon, steps away from the Amlwch studio where Morgan did this recording.

Morgan's trademark smooth guitar sound (he uses Lowden and Taylor guitars) is in evidence, but on this record he contributes on some other instruments as well, namely bass and synth, as well as lead and backing vocals. He's a deceptively good acoustic guitarist.

While he's adept with guitar sounds, my personal wish is that he had been more imaginative in the use of percussion; it seems a bit of an afterthought when used at all. No knock against Welsh veteran Charli Britton's playing, he does what's required well, but I find it fairly straightforward. If asked, I'd constructively suggest that Welsh folk in general could use a little more innovation on the percussion side.

Lots of others contribute, such as Bedwyr Morgan, on electric guitar and vocals, John Williams and Bob Galvin on keyboards and Simon Barton on vocals, but it's mostly a one-man effort. Such solo efforts can often be flawed or unpolished, but this is a good solo effort overall from this veteran guitarist and studio hand.

The only other comment I have is on the package: colourful cover, full lyrics in Welsh with English explanations provided (good!) but lyrics all in uppercase, so hard to read (not so good.)

by David Cox
4 March 2006