Fernhill - Na prádle
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Fernhill
Na prádle
Beautiful Jo (www.bejo.co.uk)

This quiet, intimate release was recorded live in September of 2006 at Divadlo na Prádle, a very small theatre, gallery and café in Prague. The venue was built in 1924 by, among others, composers Bedrich Smetana and Antonín Dvorák. The band is a stripped-down trio here, with Julie Murphy on vocals, Ceri Rhys Matthews on guitar and flute, and Tomos Williams on trumpet and piano. The music is, therefore, subtler and simpler than on the band's studio releases, but carries no less impact. Murphy's voice is a cool, intelligently wielded instrument, whether she's singing in her native English or her adopted Welsh. Matthews is a sensitive accompanist, sending softly rolling ostinati or gently rhythmic chords to loft Murphy's voice to the rafters. One of this band's most distinguishing features is Williams' muted, jazzy trumpet, and he takes off on several improvisatory flights in the course of the album's approximately fifty minutes. He switches to piano later in the set and Matthews picks up the flute.

These new tone colors are a welcome change. Williams' dark chords on "Lloer Dirion" shift the piece from the realm of folk music into that of art song. The eight-song set list includes some strong tracks from the band's previous albums, such as "Gwalch," with its undulating circular melody and the moody epic that is "Grey Cock." Though there is little here that is new and revelatory beyond the band's studio releases, Fernhill fans will appreciate the alternative takes on old favorites. - Peggy Latkovich

The band's web site: www.fernhill.info

CD available from cdRoots

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"Lloer Dirion"

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