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TOBY HAY - The Gathering

TOBY HAY - The Gathering
Cambrian Records CAM001

My memories of the area in Mid Wales that Toby Hay comes from are of a wild but beautiful place, where one can be alone to enjoy nature at its best. It is an area, if I remember correctly, of bare hills and expanses of open water, with only natural sounds to break the silence. It’s an environment where people have lived in the past, but also an area which is alive today.

The Gathering reflects that area perfectly. There is a beauty in the sounds produced by Toby’s guitar, but also a feel for the landscape and the life there is in that place. There is a nod to the past but also a look to the future. Mostly it is the guitar that tells the stories but occasionally the cello, violin or double bass add their voices (though whether it is Toby playing these or not, I don’t know, as the notes on the CD are almost as empty as the landscape).

Often instrumental guitar albums leave me a bit cold but I find The Gathering is a work of beauty as it adds to the long history of Welsh string music, but adds influences from various parts of the world. The opening of Black Brook could easily be the African kora, for instance.

Toby is embarking on an extensive tour to promote this release, and I am sure this will sell in large numbers at his gigs. I know I will be making every effort to get out and see him live and I am also sure I will be drifting off to the Welsh hills as he plays, so if my eyes are closed I’m not asleep, just dreaming.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.