Tudur Huws Jones - Dal i Drio
Sing Out, 2005:
The Welsh coal industry may be in the doldrums, but rich musical nuggets continue to be mined. Tudur Huws Jones chips away at the seam between traditional tunes, original compositions and American-style country and bluegrass. The opening track “Angor” is almost a Gordon Lightfoot imitation in its smoothness and the way in which Jones’ vocals rise dramatically atop a gentle melody. For the most of the rest of the album though, his voice is a cross between Eric Bogle and Christy Moore with its hints of gravel and strongly accented syllables. Jones honors the victims of Welsh deindustrialization on the title track, the militants of a 1900-1903 strike on “Cau Drws y Ty,” and the American Civil War on “Amser Maith yn Ol”. The latter, which opens with Jones picking out “Rally Round the Flag” on the banjo is one of many small surprises in store. Another is “Sbaen 1936,” in honor of Welsh volunteers in the Spanish Civil War and played with a galloping tempo in the grand rallying-of-the-comrades feel of the classic songs from the era. There are also numerous songs and tunes in which Jones puts down his guitar and takes up mandolin or banjo to showcase his familiarity with Appalachian-style melodies. Perhaps the most unusual piece is the country-spiced “Mountain Jim,” which tells the story of a 19th century Welshman in Colorado and his feud with an Irishman. Although this album originates in Wales, it travels widely. – R Weir
Inside of Wales, Tudur needs no introduction, having performed down the years with all the leading lights of the Welsh language Folk Revival, and also made his mark as a member of several groups, most notably ’4 yn y bar’.
In Celtic Beat issue Vol 15 January 2006
Tudur Huws Jones, Dal I Drio
The versatile Tudur Huws Jones, of Gwerinos, covers a lot of genres here, from traditional Welsh to American, from the personal to the historical and political. He is never at a loss for words in Welsh, or for music.
“Angor”(Anchor) is a deeply touching tribute to his wife. Even if you don’t know any Welsh, you grasp the love and the strength derived from that union. “Perffaith” (Perfect) is about the wonder of his son’s birth. “Magi Tudur” is a sweet instrumental for his daughter’s birth. Tudur Huws Jones has the right grounding.
The title track “Dal I Drio” in it’s sing song frustrated powerful way, the thwarted existence of a one factory town. Tudur Huws Jones sings of Wales, but it could be here also. This is a universal theme. “Spacn 1936” is about an immediately more fatal kind of frustration, of young ideologues caught up in a real shooting war, between the ugly murderous contenders and their clients. Here Jones captures the anger of those decent people caught in the totalitarian’s vicious grasp.
Banjo is an instrument Jones uses with great artistry, combined with vocals as in “Miliwn”(A Million) and powerfully in “Cau drws y ty” which American listeners will recognize, or by itself in “Banjoio.”
“Wrecsam i Fachynlleth” is a wonderful bubbly work, another take on the tune “Machynlleth” with Tudur on mandolin, and Paul Airey on guitar. Here the strings really sing. “Os daw ‘Nghariad” is a touching love song which should be added to “Blackbird” and other Celtic works in that vein. The two final cuts reference an American context. “Mountain Jim” is a wild tale of days of yore(1800’s I believe ) in the Rockies, it also remembers unfortunate history of Celts still setting on each other. It has that Hatfields /McCoys musical atmosphere-it could be the inspiration for a movie.
The final cut was one which had particular relevance and an emotional connection to me: “Amser maith yn ol”(A Long Time Ago) about old men gathering to remember their combat experiences in the Civil War. Weaving into this “The Battle Hymn of The Republic” Tudur Huws Jones sings about the American Civil War in a way that speaks profoundly to this great grand nephew of those who fought that war. Sung in Welsh it speaks to Americans who know their lineage and history and will remember it. And all of our wars. For Tudur Huws Jones is an artist of universal truths. “Amser maith yn ol” particularly touched me. A fine CD by a great communicator. –AK