Dark Holler Arts/ Hand/EyePrydwyn (with Quickthorn) : Solitude Owes me a Smile (US,2009)****
It has been much too long since Prydwyn’s last releases under his own name (1995 & 1997) before there has been another album. Prydwyn had left his mark before with Green Crown and later with Stone Breath and some related releases. With Green Crown inspirations have been traditional and classic songs that celebrated events in close relationship with nature in favour of this mystic bond we could live in, making that quality band a well-seen guest on Pagan festivals like Heartland. Also this new solo album still has that bond, but also took out songs on mysteries of love and relationships, or traditional songs relating to some true place. Whenever Prydwyn sings a song and picks out a song to interpret, especially with Green Crown and solo (Stone Breath features more of the darker side), he becomes like the minstrel who collected songs that travel with his life and where he’s able to interpret them like life lessons to tell, sometimes as if he is inspired by the moment. This special almost medieval atmosphere is made stronger by his use of instruments, like bouzouki, or a self-made instrument called zûk, sounding like a cross of guitar, bouzouki and a hand held dulcimer/zither.
And even if some songs might have been known to you beforehand they are magically transformed into a true Prydwyn interpretation, showing a quality of honesty that makes Prydwyn for me one of the most convincing new troubadours of this century along with B’Eirth of In Gowan Ring (in this context also Sedayne is worth a mention). Close companion is Kira (Quickthorn ?) who you hear doing a second voice now and then. Other participants include The Jam Surfers, Wye, Yashi and Wot ‘Tyler’..
Songs that are added are “Ashling” (originally by Dr.Strangely Strange, still recognisable, but in the midst of transforming into a Prydwyn meditation, the way I described before), “Shotgun Down The Avalanche” (by Shawn Colvin, with a melody which reminds me a bit of a tempered and folkier version of “Starway to heaven” (LZ). It has some mellotron besides acoustic guitars and voice. Further on we have “Cornfield” from Lal Waterson & Oliver Knight (also with dual vocals, with nice acid-folkish celebrative flute), “Grantchester Meadows” (originally from Pink Floyd from “Ummagumma”, the folkier side of them, made even more mystic and direct-delicate with its second female vocalist and by interpretations on bouzouki/zûk), “a Leaf must fall” (originally by Clive Palmer’s The Famous Jug Band, sung here with nice dual harmonies, and with a small flute arrangement), the Irish traditional “Arthur McBride” (known from previous versions from Bob Dylan, Planxty and Paul Brady), here close to the Irish folk tale, sung like a minstrel of course, with strong straight-power on bouzouki. Another included song is “Closing My Eyes” (Fleetwood Mac) sung slower too like a contemplative emotion, interpreted with voice and accompaniment, slowly developing, almost improvised and invented on the spot. Another Irish traditional “Curragh Of Kildare” (sung before by some Irish groups, like The Johnstons), is preformed like a minstrel story on zûk and voice, with some flute and background vocals and effects to the second half of the song). Last listed song is the self-penned “The Darkling Maid” accompanied by harmonium and flute, is based upon (if I found out right) the melody of the Scottish fiddle traditional “Am Muileann Dubh/The Black Mill”. There’s one surprise of a bonus track, a happier old time folk song. A lovely, magical album.
I think it is also about time someone re-releases Green Crown’s releases too. My favourite was the tape only release by Prydwyn Olvardill Prydwyn & Diana McFadden (cello) : The Witch in the Well (1997)****° with other great interpretations of Incredible String Band and Pink Floyd,..