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Review: Yr Hwntws, Gwentian


Yr Hwntws
Gwentian
[Sain SCD2645 (2010)]

The beginnings of the Welsh group Yr Hwntws dates back to 1981 when Gregg Lynn (vocals, guitar) and Jethro Newton (vocals) assembled a cast of musicians to interpret the traditional music of Wales in a new light. Their name means “South Walians,” and many of the songs are sung in the almost extinct south east Wales dialect. They stopped performing in 1994, then reformed in 2005 as an electric lineup with bass, drums, and electric guitar, but have returned to an acoustic lineup for this recording.

Yr Hwntws were always known for the intensity of the vocals, and nothing has changed here. Both Lynn and Newton have powerful voices, and, matched with the backing of the KilBride, brothers, Bernard on fiddle, Gerard on fiddle and whistle and Danny on guitar and bass, the music has a rock-like intensity even without the amplification. Many of the 18 selections are re-recordings of old (and unavailable) material. The lavish booklet has song notes and lyrics in both Welsh and English.

A strong return to form for this long running Welsh group. [Available direct from Sain Records www.sainwales.com or as a download from I-Tunes.]

—Jim Lee (Simi Valley, CA)

Here’s an amateur video of the electric lineup at the Lorient Festival in 2008:

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