The Gentle Good is the moniker of Gareth Bonello who hails from Cardiff. His latest album Tethered for the Storm is an exceptional album that harkens back to the 60’s folk revival and is reminiscent of the likes of Nick Drake and Bert Jansch. The album consists of both self-penned and traditional songs which are sung in English and Welsh. What tipped the scales for me on this album was the beautiful string and cello arrangements, the use of space, Gareth’s vocal delivery which suits his moniker to perfection and the choice of poetic songs.
The album opens to Aubade, a beautiful song about two lovers lying in bed wishing the sun will never rise so they can remain together:
One last time in the darkness
let’s lie still as the night
and hold the shroud to cloud the growing light
The song was partly inspired by Philip Larkin’s Aubade which is also a song of dawn which is about awaking at 4am with the fear or awareness of what awaits:
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
The combination of Drake/Jansch/Renbourn inspired finger picked guitar and cello fills this album with rich and deep emotional layers that lets you sink right into the songs. Sometimes, the simplest of combinations makes the biggest impact and Gareth masters this technique incredibly well with the help of Seb Goldfinch (string arrangements).
Poetry is clearly a big influence throughout the album. Colled was inspired by Hen Bellion (Old Earnings/Verses) which are ‘welsh verses simply expressing the common feelings such as love, death, nature or the wisdom of the Old earnings. They are traditional poems and nobody knows who wrote them normally’.
Gareth also features guest artist Lisa Jen of 9bach who sings a capella on Deuawd. The album is a folk album…more so than most. It is linked to the land in many ways, through peoples history and poetry. Cysgod y Dur is a great example of this connection which is based on the welsh steel industry. The track opens to the heavy industrial sound of the steel works which sounds like a hellish oncoming train. Even if you can’t understand welsh, you can hear the sentiment.
Fortunately for Gareth he works at St Fagans: National History Museum where he was able to do a lot of his research for the album as well as examine their song archive which he has made use of on the album. Working within such a place surrounded by a wealth of welsh history must be incredibly inspiring and the sincerity and authenticity of his work is a great testament to the past lives of many workers.
If you can find the time to sit back and settle right into this album you’ll be overwhelmed by its potent force. It’s one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard in a long time and I can’t recommend it enough.
Gareth will be appearing at The Greenman Festival on 19th August and he’ll be joined by the string section that he recorded the album with which will be a great performance to catch if you’re going.
photo credit: Emma Lou