canu rhydd by Fernhill

Heavenly Welsh Band Fernhill

I heard about Calan and Fernhill from Idris Morris Jones of BBCRadio5 Radio Cymru which is focused on Welsh music. I was trying to come up with a project about pipe music and he was my target reference. But he told me that he is not the right person to talk about it so instead gave me the names of Ceri Rhys Matthews of Fernhill and Patrick Rimes of Calan plus their contact infos.

I am familiar with Ferhill because I wrote about them years ago and now they are making a comeback in my consciousness.  Now let us take a closer look at Fernhill.

Their latest album is called “canu rhydd” and I am attaching their bandcamp site so you will be able to enjoy their brand of Welsh Celtic music. The sound is distinctive and have that perky kind of delicacy.

There are 8 tracks in the album and I am listening to them right now.

julie murphy-voice, sruti 
christine cooper-fiddle, voice 
tomos williams-trumpet, flugelhorn 
ceri rhys matthews-guitar, flute, voice 

canu rhydd… literally ‘free poetry’, is written according to the free will of the poet. it is unconstrained by patronage or by the twenty four accredited meters of the secret craft of bardic poetry as laid out by einion offeiriad. from its sixteenth century flowering, came tumbling the multitude of unattached verses kept safe on the tongues of unselfconscious singers over the centuries. with these we start our songs… 

this album was recorded at dartington college of arts in july 2010, shortly before the college left its devon home for good. the album is one of many thousands of sparks of dartington’s creative legacy which are scattered throughout the country. 

recorded and mixed by nick marshall at dartington college, devon 
mastered by jens schroeder at dreamworld studio, pembrokeshire 
cover by noel hefele 

1. adar(Free) The carefree chord combinations and soft guitar strumming reminds me of lazy afternoons and the visions of being at sea.

2.when i was in my prime- I already heard several versions of this song and this one is a different arrangement. Fernhill added their fresh twist to this traditional track. With the simplicity of the guitar, it adds wings to Julie Murphy’s beautiful singing with a voice that reminds me of Mary Hopkins.

3.diddan-Beautiful tune in Welsh. It has that toe tapping appeal and the instruments just wash over. The strumming and  fiddling are superb.

4.forest-Sang in the form of a hymn, it has that soothing trumpet sound in the middle.

5.glyn cynon-The track opens with a flugelhorn. Now this kind of instrument is seldom  being used by World/Celtic acts. Having that in the album is a plus. The soft guitar plucking follows. Then there’s that lark singing of Julie. Something Jazzy, something soothing. Good for your nightcap. It ends with a step dancing tune. Now who needs coffee?

6.glyn tawe-A lilting voice and guitar in Welsh. The flugel horn occasionally embellish the lines. A beautiful poetry in English cuts through the singing..images in full color.

7. y fwynlan o serch- Guitar strumming and Ceri Rhys Matthews contributing in the vocals . The guy has a remarkable voice!  This makes you declare that Welsh is the language of the elves.

8. like the snow-This track closes the album. A haunting enveloping lament with vocal harmonies and lyrics about loss. Then, it builds up tempo in the middle with that typical Welsh dancing tune.It leaves its footprints long after you finished listening.

canu rhydd is  a beautiful transporting experience into the lush Welsh country side. You don’t have to be there to feel it all. Just listen to the music and it will bring you there. Away from all cares. Away from life’s hardships, and for just a moment…just a moment you feel this is heaven.



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