Today, the shortlist for the Gwobr Albwm Cymraeg y Flwyddyn (Welsh Language Album of the Year) was published, with the winner of this award set to be announced on Friday 11 August.
The aim of this award is to promote Welsh language music recorded or released during the period from 1 March 2016 until 30 April this year.
A jury of people involved with the Welsh music industry have been discussing a wide range of albums released this year, and the shortlist reflects the eclectic nature of the discussion and the diverse mix of music released and recorded in Welsh and in Wales at the moment.
The shortlist is:
Announcing the list, one of the organisers, Guto Brychan, said, “The Award is an important part of the Eisteddfod, and gives Welsh music of all genres a central role within the festival. It’s always interesting to see what appeals to the jury and then the judges, and the fact that the winner is chose by industry professionals adds to the Award’s credibility.
“This is the fourth time for the Award to be presented, and it’s interesting to look back at the range over the years, not only amongst the winners but also those who’ve been shortlisted since 2014. It’s a clear sign of how varied and viable the Welsh music scene is at the moment.”
The Award will be presented in Caffi Maes B, and the winner will receive a specially commissioned trophy, made by blacksmith Ann Catrin Evans. More information here.
Details of the artists on the shortlist
Band Pres Llareggub – Kurn
By combining the Jazz and Hip Hop infused sounds of Brooklyn’s streets with Wales’ finest brass musicians, Band Pres Llareggub have gained a huge following over the past two years. Their latest album ‘Kurn’ includes 10 completely new tracks composed by the band’s leader, Owain Roberts. These tracks build on the powerful multi-genre sound that the band has mastered over the short amount of time they’ve been in the spotlight.
This project between Carwyn Ellis of Colorama and Plu has led to a beautiful collection of songs with vocal harmonies right at their core. The album explores themes such as one’s roots, family and home. Many of the songs have been inspired by Carwyn’s deep rooted connection with Carmarthenshire. The album was recorded in Acapela Studios and co-produced by Mason Neely.
Calan – Solomon
Solomon is the fourth album of former buskers and pop folk pioneers, Calan. The album is inspired by ancient stories and myths from Wales and is laden with harrowing harmonies, traditional melodies and modern beats which create a different narrative to the usual. The album explores stories of fairies and men in search of love in the usual experimental form that Calan have mastered over the years.
CaStLeS – Fforesteering
This trio from Ceunant and Llanrug create music that dances between the likes of Os Mutantes, Enrico Morricone and the foggy mountains of Eryri. These unique sonic sounds combine groovy riffs, psychedelic elements and hypnotic harmonies which can be seen as a natural progression to the well-received 2015 EP, PartDepart. Foresteering is the trio’s first album.
Gwilym Bowen Rhys – O Groth y Ddaear
The multi-talented Gwilym Bowen Rhys has a taken a large step away from Y Bandana’s rock origins on his first solo album, O Groth y Ddaear. The new album is a mixture of old melodies combined with original words and experimentation with poetry, creating a new and fresh sound that offers something different on each listening. Gwilym is accompanied by an array of talented musicians on the album, including Patrick Rimes from ‘Calan’ on the fiddle and Gwen Mari York on the harp.
Meinir Gwilym – Llwybrau
This is the first new solo material by Meinir Gwilym for eight years. The album, Llwybrau, includes 15 songs and speaks for itself, according to singer-songwriter from Anglesey.
Mr Huw – Gwna Dy Feddwl i Lawr
Gwna Dy Feddwl i Lawr is Mr Huw’s fifth album since starting his individual career as the SRGs Dark Pop King. The mixture of upbeat beats and sinister wording are a testimony to Mr Huw’s ability as a dark storyteller, even if there is a slight change to the sound and feel of previous albums. Each album includes a unique piece of art to further the experience and to push the album to an artform rather than simply a collection of songs.
Ryland Teifi – Man Rhydd
Music and folk music in particular has always been in Ryland Teifi’s blood. His father was a folk musician who ran a folk club. His latest albumn, Man Rhydd, refers to a magical place, a piece of land between west Wales and Wexford which may exist, yet it does. It’s old words and new. It’s the place he finds himself in.
The Gentle Good – Ruins / Adfeilion
Bonello’s fourth album, Ruins / Adfeilion, is one that its title alone serves best to reflect the disparate themes within. Although not represented by a single concept, the songs have common themes of history, identity and social commentary within them. Many of the songs pay tribute to the past whilst others address, in very direct terms, contemporary issues.
Yws Gwynedd – Anrheoli
It took Yws Gwynedd fifteen years to create his first album, Codi/\Cysgu, but the second album, Anrheoli, was created over two weekends at Bing Studios, mid Wales, with the help of his bandmates. The energy and fun of these recording sessions is clear in the upbeat and guitar-led tracks, creating an instant feel-good factor!