FtM 2018 Song of the Year : Lleuwen : Caerdydd

Each year since From the Margins was first uploaded we have picked a 'song of the year', starting with Aled Rheon's sublime Wrap up Warm in 2016. It is an informal process - a shortlist is drawn up then passed around and whittled until the final choice is obvious.

This year, once the list was initially distilled, it was difficult to make progress. Songs by Iwan Huws (Pennsylvania), Blodau Gwylltion (Cân Mered), Liverpool's Nick Ellis (Clock Watching), Glaswegian Findlay Napier (There's More to Building Ships), Young Waters (Dust - here in an earlier, live, version than on found their recent debut album) and Lankum (The Granite Gaze) all express a deep emotional authenticity, and are hard to separate.

The late addition of a dash of folk-noir splendour from a VRï / Beth Celyn collaboration (Cob Malltraeth) didn't help; only the release of the new album from Welsh singer-songwriter Lleuwen, Gwn Glân Beibl Budr, resolved matters decisively, with its heart-rending, masterfully crafted set of songs.

The keystone of Gwn Glân Beibl Budr is Caerdydd (Cardiff). At first hearing the song is just a subtle framing of the singer's slightly frayed passions, but there's an irrepressible power to the music that does not leave you after the last note, and demands repeat listens. The lyric (translation below) weaves together the psychogeography of a place with the internal, intense psychodrama of loss - the resulting song is a sophisticated, poetic expression of a compulsive, still healing memory.

Composer Frederick Delius once said "Music is an outburst of the soul"; if a singer-songwriter's task is to control that rush so the charge of their own emotion connects profoundly to the something in the listener, then it is fully and gloriously completed here - and in a way that transcends language.

 

Caerdydd (Cardiff)

If you still spend your time hiding, remember,
I know all the streets of your mind.
I know this city, the dust and the chaos,
I know the straight and narrow paths
And gorgeous gardens of your skin
  while you sleep.

Three hundred and forty six thousand
People are living in Cardiff
Yet not one
  knows the way
The way to you.
Three hundred and forty six thousand.

When we were spent
 I went as far as I could, far away,
But there was traffic on the roads
 and traffic on my phone.
Traffic in my mind and traffic in my veins
Driving me back to Cardiff -
One way diversion to your kingdom.

Three hundred and forty six thousand
People are living in Cardiff
Yet not one
  knows the way
The way to you.
Three hundred and forty six thousand.