TANYA BRITTAIN – Hireth (TCR Music TCRM75903)

HIrethTanya Brittain is best known as half of The Changing Room with Sam Kelly and a supporter of all things Cornish. Hireth is her first solo album and concentrates on her own songwriting, although there are two traditional songs. Tanya plays piano and organ and her support includes two almost ubiquitous names – Mattie Foulds, who also mixed the record, on percussion and bassman Ben Nicholls. Mark Barnwell plays guitar and bouzouki, Annie Baylis plays violin and Alan Pengelly’s piano accordion provides a continental feel.

The opener, ‘Just Go Quietly’ seems a bit easy listening at first with nightclub accordion and violin. Tanya includes the line “don’t judge a book by the cover” but immediately subverts it with “don’t judge a love by the lover”, a clever juxtaposition which grabs the attention. The song is hard-edged with lyrics that leave the listener in two minds about its intention. The album is described as a collection of songs about longing and the first traditional piece, ‘Oh Alas’, is a perfect example as the heroine is determined to declare her love but finds herself unable to speak when the opportunity arises. Raise a hand if you’ve been there.

‘Genev Dons’ is sung in Cornish as is the traditional ‘Dy Sul Vyttin’. The former reappears in English as a bonus track under the title ‘Dance With Me (Miss Havisham’s Lament)’ which requires no explanation. I particularly like ‘Father Forgive Me’ with words by Tim Rose (no, not that Tim Rose) another bitter song, this one about a father-daughter relationship, with nothing easy listening about it. There is an instrumental, ‘A Bluven Glas’, which gives the ensemble space to enjoy and then comes my other favourite, ‘Girl On The Northern Line’. Superficially, it is about the desire to see the world but there is something else about it that worries me a bit.

Tanya has the rich voice of experience and her band knows when to be respectful and when they can let go a little. The result is a beautifully balanced record embodying the feeling of hireth or, to a semi-Welshman, hiraeth.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:  https://www.trelawnysreach.com/

‘Girl On The Northern Line’ – official video:

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