A Review of the Tudur Huws Jones CD
"dal I drio (Still Trying)"

"dal I drio (Still Trying)"
by Tudur Huws Jones

Sain Records SCD2417

Email: catalog@sainwales.com
Website: www.sainwales.com

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 4/05

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”.

The songs are all self-penned and in the Welsh language, with the occasional traditional melody thrown in. Of them, Tudur says in his liner notes “My aim in putting this collection together was to try to reflect all the musical elements which have influenced me over the years, but mainly folk music and country music in all its varied forms. From Nansi Richards to Nanci Griffith, as it were. I hope you like the result.”

Well, yes Tudur, I think I do. For it is nicely varied in pace and emotional content; he is in fine voice, and musicianship shines through at every turn as he has some leading names from the Welsh scene in the studio accompanying him; and the production is the usual fine Sain job, i.e. as clean as a whistle.

There are clearly one or two songs here that are meant to have real impact.

“Sbaen 1936” for instance. This is a song that catalogues the remarkable contribution of the Welsh working class to the ranks of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps it is just me, but I long for a song re the Welsh volunteers that will not put the Spanish Civil War in black and white terms: you do not have to be a paid-up member of the Revisionist Historians' Club to realise that it was a much more complex war than it is usually portrayed as being. But that said, these were brave young Welshmen who left their bodies behind in the arid soil of Spain, and I salute Tudur for remembering them in song.

Other “big” songs are the title song, and “Cau drws y ty”. But it was a little love song inspired by his baby son that stole my heart away: “Perffaith” (Perfect). Quite delightful. It features some assured piano playing from John Williams.

A word on the liner notes before ending my review. Oh for sure they are Sain's usual high quality, but I feel Tudur and Sain have missed a trick here.

You see, they have the lyrics of the songs all in the original Welsh. (You may ask, What's wrong with that?)

The answer is nothing is WRONG as such, but as they surely want this album to sell outside the Welsh-speaking diaspora, what could have been better than to tell non-Welsh speakers line for line what they are hearing? True Tudur does give a short summary in English for every song, but that ain't the same as a translation.

And if you say well, there was not room on the liner notes for both languages, I say then scrap the Welsh, for his diction is fine and Welsh speakers will have no problem in understanding his every word.

As Dafydd Ellis Thomas once perceptively observed: “English is one of the two languages of Wales”. So please, let's do all we can to get the right conditions for monoglot Welshmen to smell the flowers in the Welsh language garden.

That said, I enjoyed the album and would recommend it to other Welshmen like me living outside their native land and who need a quick fix to satisfy the feeling of “hiraeth” that may have suddenly overcome them.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

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