[Cliciwch yma i weld y darn blog yn Gymraeg]
We’ve just begun the process of recording a third album and I’ve decided to blog about it. I have no idea if this will be interesting or quite boring so please forgive all its faults, and I promise to keep each blog post short.
Around three years ago I was recording my second album – a record that was released under the name of Gathering Dusk. My approach to the process of recording it, like my first album Os Mewn Sŵn, was a rather disorganised one. I would go into the studio with a very rough idea of the songs and, basically, arrange them as we went on – adding layers of different instruments and then deciding what worked and what didn’t.
The songs weren’t recording ‘live’ with a band but, rather, each instrument was recorded separately (by various musicians) and multi-tracked onto each other. There are obvious advantages to this approach e.g. it gives you freedom in the mix to chop and change, but the danger is in the possibility of losing the essence of the song – the virtue of the original idea.
Three years on and we’re recording a new album… about time too. By now, however, the composition of the project has changed and there’s a proper band in place (and a rather special one too).
Bethan Mai plays accordion and sings:
And Iolo Whelan plays drums…. and does some singing too:
So, a real band who can actually play the songs live, instead of me messing around with a loop pedal – a vast improvement! We’re back in the studio with the wonderful Frank Naughton producing and we’ve just started on the recording process.
By now, we’ve laid the foundations for 6 songs, namely A house by the sea, Cydia yn fy llaw [Grab my hand], My way home, Sŵn y galon fach yn torri [The sound of the little heart breaking – traditional], Gwreiddiau [Roots] and Hold on. This time, we’re recording the album live, more or less, and hopefully we can truly capture the substance of the songs. I remember hearing someone say once – if a song doesn’t work live, it won’t work in the studio, and I think there’s a great deal of truth in that. If this record sounds a bit less squeaky clean than the last two – that’s fine by me. A few blemishes here and there can really add character to a performance.
In the meantime, I’m going to share with you some songs and artists that have been keeping me company during the last 3 years as the songs for this new album have been composed. We’ll start with the wonderful folk/blues artist Elizabeth Cotten, and here’s the brilliant ‘Shake Sugaree’ sung by her daughter Brenda Evans with Elizabeth Cotten on guitar: