Monday, 10 October 2016

50 albums to take to my grave #42: Tir

I have an autographed copy of the limited book edition of this CD. Cerys Matthews actually held it in her fair hands and wrote her name on it. It is one of my most prized possessions. It probably would be even if the music it contained wasn't so delightful, but the fact it is also one of the most gorgeously-sounding things I own makes it even more special.

'Tir' is Welsh for 'land', perhaps most particularly 'Land of my fathers' (although another word for land - wlad or gwlad - is preferred in that translation). It's a collection of "folk/traditional items, Victorian so-called 'national' songs, a couple of hymns and our national anthem" arranged and interpreted by Cerys. It makes me go all weak at the knees.

Opening with one of Wales' best-loved songs, Sosban Fach (The Little Saucepan), 'Tir' enchants right to the final note. If you've ever spent time in Wales, or if you've seen an international rugby match featuring the Welsh national side, you will have heard some of these songs being bellowed with true gusto by the fervent supporters. Here, though, Cerys treats them with tenderness, a loving care so befitting of her love of her family's history and ancestry. The pages of the CD book contain wonderful old photographs from her family album going right back to the late 19th century. They serve to add some sort of context to the songs therein, as do notes on the songs' origins alongside Welsh and English transcriptions of the lyrics.

Other 'big hits' include Calon Lân (Pure Heart), Cwm Rhondda (which literally translates as Rhondda Valley, but is better known as Bread Of Heaven), and of course, the mighty national anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land Of My Fathers), which many of you will have heard during Wales' extraordinary Euro 2016 campaign. But there are plenty of other hidden gems. Myfanwy has, for generations, been Wales' favourite love song, so beloved of male voice choirs and folk-singers alike; the bilingual Cân Merthyr (Merthyr Song) is sung with relish, and Ar Lan Y Môr (On The Sea Shore) is divine and even has a Dylan-esque harmonica solo. There's even room for a duet with Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel.

I love Wales as a nation, as a people, as a country. Like most countries (and people) it has its flaws, but even as an outsider - a pesky Saesneg - I get all dewy-eyed when I listen to this record. A lot of it is probably down to Cerys, my adoration of whom I've made no secret of. She most definitely makes 'Tir' what it is, and though it's only six years old, I'm convinced this album will join me even if I go to my grave in 16, 26 or - god forbid - 36 years time.


  1. Thank you Robster for introducing me to classic Welsh music. This artist and songs are very new to me and I've to say that they pleased me right now. A very crystal and clear voice that leads me a bit of your culture. As good as your series about Welsh music. Please more of it, mate.

  2. Had to check it wasn't Wednesday for a moment!

  3. Really brings home just how lovely and talented a singer she is. Theses were totally new to me. Thanks.