Siān James / Sian James
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Siân James
Recordiau Bos (

cd cover James returns to her Welsh roots with this totally acoustic, non-overdubbed collection of traditional melodies. She has a light, subtle touch on the harp that is just right for these contemplative songs. Her voice has a theatricality informed by her experience as an actor, but it rarely goes over the top dramatically. She sings mostly in Welsh with a pure tone and a practiced phrasing that is just short of stagy. She delivers the sprightly "Dacw Nghariad (There is My Sweetheart)" with all the gusto of a good storyteller.

She salutes Welsh literary hero Dylan Thomas with a version of his "Evening Prayer," set to Troyte's "Chant." The facile melody is a little cloying, but her gentle rendering gives the piece the comforting quality of a lullaby. "Yr Eneth Glaf (The Sick Girl)" is sentimental to the max, with its story of ... well, a sick girl. Fortunately, unless you understand Welsh, it just comes off as another pretty song, prettily delivered. Everything on the album is very pretty, in fact, if a little lacking in variety. But then this is generally the good news/bad news thing about any recording done so minimally. She does cut loose with the closing track, "Cyfri'r Geifr (Counting the Goats)," turning it into a pattering, Mozartian recitative. James is an undeniable talent, with an angelic voice backed by an angelic instrument and with the studied flair of a performer. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available at cdRoots

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