Plu : Tir a Golau2015 : Sbrigyn Ymborth
I put Tir a Golau on a few times when I was distracted; it was only when I sat down to just listen that it was finally a revelation. Despite the ghosts of references in its traditional folk sound it is a distinct, original work. It demands attention to be appreciated.
Plu (which means 'feathers') formed in 2012, and this is their third album. Their mix of Welsh folk and Americana, with exquisite three part harmonies at the fore, has previously gathered numerous plaudits; their first two releases were both shortlisted for the Welsh Language Album of the Year, and they were chosen to be in the first wave of BBC Horizons artists in 2014.
Tir a Golau was adroitly produced by Aled Hughes from Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, and recorded at Bryn Derwen studios, Bethesda and Sain studios, Llandwrog. Inspired by the landscape around them sisters and brother, Elan, Marged and Gwilym Rhys, from Bethel, Caernarfon wrote most of the music here, except one traditional song, Ambell i Gân, and two Endaf Emlyn songs (Dwynwen and Hedfan). The two sisters hold most of the vocal duties, Gwilym expertly providing the frame to their voices, mainly with guitar or banjo, and with guest appearances from Mari Morgan (fiddle), Dafydd Hughes (drums) and Euron Jones (pedal steel).
Their songwriting is strong throughout, but it is the arrangement of Ambell i Gân, with quiet guitar guiding the vocal to ebbing waves of harmonies, to be then briefly joined by band and pedal steel, that offers one of the set's highlights. The melancholy, stately progression of Calon Wen is another, and closing the album, Hedfan, understated guitar and two voices, has perhaps the most grace in its simplicity.
Through the whole CD the singing, harmonies and deft instrumentation create moments where you cannot help but be absorbed, enchanted and moved by the music. Listen, and Tir a Golau is full of allure.
PLU I Ôl Dy Droed