Various Artists

The Rough Guide to the Music of Wales

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For a small country, Wales has produced a lot of music, and added at least one instrument -- the triple harp -- to the arsenal of music. This compilation, however, doesn't so much look back to past glories as dwell on the young talents emerging in the country at the time, whose music is rooted in tradition, but not completely bound by it, such as Fernhill or the Rag Foundation. Inevitably, and quite justifiably, the vast majority of the pieces here are in Welsh, a language that's undergone a resurgence in recent years, and there's even one non-folkie, Catatonia's Cerys Matthews who appears here, duetting with Jonathan Shorland. While Robin Huw Bowen, one of the leading figures of Welsh music and a virtuoso on the triple harp, isn't here, the instrument certainly gets a look in with Llio Rhydderch offering some vibrant plucking on the instrument. Oddly, Sian James, one of Wales' leading performers, isn't included, but at least the trio of Kilbride, with their twin fiddles over Danny Kilbride's fleet guitar work, get a good airing. Ironically, Julie Murphy, a non-Welsh singer, appears twice, both in a duet with Dylan Fowler, and as part of Fernhill, one of the most adventurous bands to come out of Wales in many years. So while it's far from a complete picture, The Rough Guide does give an indication of where the music of Wales is likely to go in the next decade.

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