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Monday, 5th December 2016
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The Gentle Good: Ruins/Adfeilion

RuinsThere's an odd noise on Ruins/Adfeilion, title track of the new album from The Gentle Good.  It sounds like an exhaust pipe scraping on the floor after it's fallen off your car.  If you're listening whilst driving,  as your reviewer was, it's somewhat alarming.

There are earlier horrors.  Jacques Brel once sang about the 'rancid sound of the accordian'. On opening number Gwen Lllw'r Lillm it's 'turgid' and 'harmonium'.  Please stop. 

Then we're into a song in Welsh.  Gareth Bonello may be proud of his roots, and he's welcome to that, but performing in a tongue that hardly anyone can understand is a an effective a way of reducing the size of your audience, and as everyone knows, the Welsh language was only invented to make the lives of those who work in call centres more difficult.

Yet here's the paradox.  Once it's been established that your mode of transport isn't falling to bits, then  Ruins/Adfeilion, a piano led instrumental, reveals itself as melancholy and beautiful, especially in the phase before the horns kick in.  Pen Draw'r Byd has a gorgeous melody and sumptuous harmonies and probably other words that end in 'ous'.  Who cares about the language?

It's a theme that runs through the album.  Some parts are naff, others sublime.

Rivers of Gold is a protest song (in English).  It's quite a pretty waltz which can be swayed to, should you wish to mock  Whilst the sentiments are admirable (the poor getting poorer, rich getting richer) Bob Dylan won't exactly be shitting himself.

The vocal style - a cross between California and the Wicker Man is too gentle for this listener's ear .  Of course that's a matter of taste, but vocalists who sound like they've had some pain in their lives are more interesting.

Given that view, it won't be surprising that top billing as far as this piece goes, is awarded to Un I Sain Ffagan, a guitar instrumental that's complex, medieval and reminiscent of British finger style great Dave Evans.

There are a few parts of Ruins/Adfeilion that grate (like that exhaust pipe, which turned out to be thunder.)  But the excellent composition and outstanding musicianship in other sections more than compensates.  The Gentle Good is worth a gentle look.

- Les Pilling

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The Gentle Good





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