Georgia Ruth by Gemma Cotterell.
Week of Pines is the beautiful long playing debut album by Welsh singer-songwriter and harpist Georgia Ruth, it’s creation prompted by a return to Wales. Love that has been lost is tempered with joy at being home, and in the solitude of a Snowdonia studio she has melded together a plethora of influences to create an album that has an all pervading sense of calmness. Opening track and album namesake Week of Pines is a highlight, the gorgeous melody swinging along to a hastening drum beat. Welsh tune Codi Angor harnesses more obvious folk influences, and Dovecote includes the atmospheric clanging of bells, Georgia’s voice drifting in and out of the instrumental with hypnotic grace. Seeing You Around and In Luna trace the troubles of lost love, her vocals soaring in delicate arcs around the harp. A lonesome harmonica takes pride of place in Old Blue, a reinvigorated Appalachian song made popular by Joan Baez, and the album finishes with the slow beat of Winter, redemptive lyrics bringing the album to a fitting close.
Week of Pines features songs in both Welsh and English – but I believe you did not even grow up speaking Welsh. How did you get to the position where you were confident to write and sing in it?
I grew up bilingually from the age of 4, when my family moved from South Wales to Aberystwyth and I started going to a Welsh language primary school. From then on, the two languages were an integral part of my everyday identity. And it’s very much true of my music, too. There are some things I feel only able to express in Welsh, and vice versa. But I knew the album would have songs in both languages.
Week Of Pines by Georgia Ruth.
You have said that most of your songs come from personal experiences – what experiences have made this record?
On the next album I’ve told myself that I’m not allowed to write one song that relates to my actual life, just to see how I get on! Narcissistic bugger. But in many ways Week of Pines is a record about coming home. I moved back to Wales a couple of years ago, after living in London and Brighton, and the friends and relationships that I found waiting for me here have been so important and strengthening.. It’s a happy record, sun through the leaves stuff, despite some moments in the shade!
Georgia Ruth by Laura Griffin.
Why did you decide to learn the harp, and what is the best thing about it?
I started learning when I was 7. But it wasn’t quite my choice. In our primary school, the instrument you got was very much dependent on your place in the register. I wanted clarinet (the instrument of the enviable 10 year olds) but being a Williams did not stand in my favour. All the Evanses and Griffithses got the clarinet. So they offered me the harp, and I said yes! The best thing about the harp is that it’s a great conversation starter. You’re standing at the bus stop with one of these beauties stood next to you, someone’s going to want to ask you about it! That being said, it’s a nightmare to get it on planes. That is absolutely the worst thing about it.
Georgia Ruth by Rhi Pardoe.
You happily meld influences such as sea shanties, appalachian tunes and traditional folk. What were you listening to as you grew up?
Lots of different stuff! My parents would play a lot of Hank Williams, American and British folk music, Paul Simon, Melanie. And then I was learning these Welsh folk songs in school. When I hit my teens, it was the solo women who took up most of my earspace: Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Aimee Mann, Sandy Denny.
What was it like to record in the middle of Snowdonia?
Very quiet! Bryn Derwen is such a wonderful, peaceful studio. We were there for a week in the middle of August, and the air was thick and heavy with the smell of the eucalyptus trees. At times, you weren’t sure which country you were in! It was a very happy time.
Georgia Ruth by youdesignme.
This record has been described as a homecoming – what prompted the move back to Wales and will you be staying for the near future?
I just woke up one morning in Brighton, and realised that I missed Wales terribly. And I came back! I’m definitely very happy here, so yes: I’m not going anywhere. Unless someone forces me to live in sun-filled San Francisco, I would have to concede to their wishes…
What can musicians find in Wales that is not so easy to find elsewhere?
Mountains! Certainly for me, it’s been the sense of fraternity and support amongst the musicians here in Wales that has been the most amazing. In London, I often felt quite isolated as a musician. I didn’t feel as much a part of a community as I do now. And that’s been so key to the making of this record. I was all but ready to give up, and then I came home, met these remarkable people, and thought: nope!
Georgia Ruth by youdesignme.
Where can fans hear you over the course of 2013?
I’ll be touring the album in May and June with the band (current list of dates is on georgiaruthmusic.co.uk with a possible few more to be added) and I’m particularly excited about playing in Spillers Records in Cardiff on the day of release. It’s such a brilliant record shop, that’ll be a real privilege.
Week of Pines by Georgia Ruth is released on 20th May 2013 by Gwymon Records.
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