She has played Glastonbury and charmed radio presenters. BBC Radio Wales’s Adam Walton praised her as “one of the most prodigious talents ever to grace my airwaves”. Georgia Ruth not only has a remarkable voice, as clear as Gemma Hayes’s and as mysterious as Sofia Jannok’s. She also plays her instrument of choice with endearing idiosyncrasy. Having learned classical harp as child, she pursues a more guitar-inspired fingerpicking style on her debut album.
On Week of Pines, dense yet intricate harp arrangements intermingle with guitars and a reed organ. The songs alternate between English and Welsh, for Ruth, born in Aberystwyth, was raised bilingually. Among the Welsh songs is the traditional sea shanty “Codi Angor” and among English tunes the Appalachian song “Old Blue”, once sung by Joan Baez. However, Ruth is at her strongest with her own material.
Take “Week of Pines”, for example, the title track, which opens the album. It begins by both musically and lyrically conjuring a “milky stillness” that evolves into a buoyant harp melody with a playful progression of words: “And so begins a week of pines / Baby, I’ve been pining for something in the ground”. It ends with “da da”s and a flurry of sound. By the way, the video shows Ruth climbing into the projections of a slide collection of mountains, plants and portraits. Brilliant.
Similarly evocative is “Mapping”, where someone “Made a map out of my skin / There’s highways on my shoulders”. Again, the ending is surprising: a hesitant pause and then a brief violin afterthought.
While “Seeing You Around” and “In Luna” cheerfully hover between forgetting and remembering in great escapist realism with unexpected imagery from iconoclasts and mountain storms to bones and Lancelots, “A Slow Parade” and “Dovecote” are darker ventures, stalking shadows and chiming in chilly reunions. The last track, “Winter”, reconciles these sentiments with gentle stock-taking.
The album was inspired by returning home to Wales after a spell in Brighton and London; it was recorded and produced in Snowdonia over six days in August. It shows: Week of Pines is a radiant exploration of home and memory with nature weaving in and out of the lyrics. From which you might well come away thinking: I do love a harp. And so do the Guillemots, apparently, for whom Georgia Ruth has recently recorded some parts, as well.
Review by: Anne Malewski
Video “Week of Pines”
This track is not on the album, it’s a live version of Adar Mân y Mynydd one of Georgia’s favourite Welsh folk-songs, recorded last year.
21/06/2013 The Grain Barge, Bristol
21/06/2013 Instore @ Rise, Bristol
22/06/2013 Old Town Festival, Carmarthen
24/06/2013 Old Queen’s Head, London (Nest Collective)
27/06/2013 Castle Hotel, Manchester
21/07/2013 Latitude Festival