Carreg Lafar - Hyn (1998) - Celtic / Welsh Folk Music
Wales has a very rich folk tradition and the language is still very much alive and kicking. This album is a taste of traditional Welsh folk music with a modern spin. It's by the band called Carreg Lafar whose name translates as 'speaking stone'.
The album here is called 'Hyn' or 'This' in Welsh. Though the language may be unfamiliar to most of you the music is stunning - especially the Mari Lwyd (part of an ancient New Year's Eve tradition).
Tracks (with explanations)
1. Yr Hen Ferchetan - The Spinster This is a very popular song about Lisa fach of hendre who has lost her love and can't find another one! "There'll be new potatoes on the apple tree before she is married," declares the third verse. But all this is to change at Bala fair where she meets Sion Prys and her heart lifts!
2. Os Daw fy Nghariad - If my Love Will Come This beautiful song dates back to the 15th or 16th century. It starts with a young girl saying, "if my love comes here tonight, tell him a young man from the next parish has taken him away"! Her love is a young sailor who tries to persuade her to see him but she knows he will leave her again and so she refuses, sending him back to his ship.
3. Blewyn Glas - Fresh grass The title relates to the grass growing on the river Dyfi which bewitces cattle to drown, just as women bewitch men! The verses continue to relate a man's bitter experiences of love.
4. Lisa Lan - Fair Lisa This is a lover's lament for the beautiful but dead Lisa. His love is so great that he wishes she would send him to the black earth and come to his grave so that they may be together.
5. Cariad Cywir - True Love The music in this song shows the similarity between Welsh and Breton music. The words are about unrequited love, "Turn the week to a year, turn the year into three, I can't turn my love to speak one word". But, as long as the sea's water is salty he will love her forever!
6. Afon yr Haf - The Summer River An original slow air expressing the beauty of a river gently flowing through the Welsh countryside on a summer's day.
7. Mari Lwyd - Grey Mare This is a song very much from the oral tradition, arranged to celebrate Wale's ancient tradition of choral singing. The Mari Lwyd is a horse's skull decorated with a sheet and ribbons. It was taken by a group on New year's Eve to a local tavern where a singing competition would decide if they gained entry, and much ale, or not!
8. Llef Harlech/Aberdulais - Harlech's Cry/Aberdulais Two tunes from Wales's bagpipe and pibgorn tradition, again echoing a similar Breton style. Both relate to places in Wales, Harlech on the West coast with its castle, and Aberdulais in the Neath Valley with its beautiful waterfall.
9. Aberhonddu - "Hear the drum with the pipes" are the opening words to this song about a soldier departing from his beloved town and Wales to travel across the sea to war. The words are very moving and mention landmarks in Brecon and the Beacons, king of hills.
10. Dau Rosyn Coch - Two Red Roses The title relates to a young girl's cheeks and is the beginning of the chorus, "Two red roses and two black eyes, In the mud and in the mire o sir see me!" A gentleman wishes to marry her, but when she says that she has no dowry he changes his mind. "Then I won't marry you, my pretty fair maid", "I didn't ask you O Sir" she said!