Gwilym Morus,
(Sain-Rasal, 2005)

Welsh singer Gwilym Morus has a rhythmic, meditative style, and his debut CD, Traffig, has a quality and maturity unusual in a debut solo recording.

Morus, a native of Wrexham, got his start as vocalist with the group Drymbago. He's part of the new generation of Welsh singer-songwriters that has come up suddenly since the start of the millennium.

Sounding a bit like the young Bruce Cockburn, relying primarily on voice and guitar, Morus is helped out on selected tracks by Elizabeth Dowe (cello), Alun Tan Lan (banjo), Luke Evans (bass), Huw McGregor (piano), Luke Winters (drums and darbuka) and Dave Wrench (Rhodes).

On most tracks, Morus simply gets into a rhythm and stays there, and it works. A strong guitarist, songwriter and lyricist, he writes all of the songs on this disc other than "Ym Mhont y Pridd,"a traditional lyric.

His message can be pointed in songs like "Ffordd ar gau (Road Closed)," which deals with the problems in Palestine, "There's lots of money to be made over in America, from building ugly walls and selling arms. Between taking land and making people suffer, I'm sure all of you now get the picture."

But for the most part, the songs are more meditative, not as overtly political. In "Y ffordd adref" Morus writes, "there are roads to London, roads to the back country ... but I don't know where I am, where is the road back to me." On "Jest chwarae" Morus shows a different, playful side, his voice rising into a bluesy falsetto.

I enjoy the very sparse use of instrumentation, the light touch of the piano and the banjo, for instance. Some might think his delivery a bit predictable, or find the arrangements lacking in musical variety. But I think Morus has set out to accomplish something with mood and tone, and in this he succeeds.

This interesting and promising debut is well worth a listen. Lyrics are provided in Welsh only (translations here are mine).

by David Cox
3 March 2007

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