‘You Were Never Much Of A Dancer’ – Gwenifer Raymond
Released by Tomkins Suare Records
Gwenifer Raymond was originally from Cardiff, but is now based in Brighton, England. Gwenifer is a multi-instrumentalist and composer of the finest calibre, with a totally original style, which is all good in my book. What a style it is too, might I add, with influences from Skip James, and John Hurt, and with heavy roots of the music of both the Mississipi, and Appalachia folk. Mind you, she has also previously played in various Punk bands too for many years, before changing track – excuse the non intended pun here – and began listening to more and more pre-war blues, etc. She has certainly enjoyed a wide variety of music whilst learning, and honing her craft, and was also, at one point influenced by Nirvana – one of my favourite bands too – especially their version of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Tonight”. So, as you can see, she has developed a totally original style, in her own way encompassing the guitar players of the so called american primitive genre, into her compositions, plus many others which gives you an idea of her soundworld. Taking these compositions into the wider world, so to speak, and playing them in both UK and USA, if you haven’t heard her work yet, then this is a great introduction to her and her music. I’ll try here to say just a few words about the tracks, but hope you’ll get yourself a copy and listen to them with open ears, and soul for an original artist of exquisite original talent.
“Off To See The Hangman Pt.1″
After some wildlife sound reflection, fiddle enters for a short, but sweet solo work.
“Sometimes There’s Blood”
Upbeat, with some fabulous rhythmic guitar playing. So complex, at times, this composition with a variety of techniques thrown into the mix, it’s certainly hard to tell this is one musician at work. Bends, harmonics, drone basses – excellent stuff.
A real change of musical character, as Gwenifer produces both a great tune, but such a performance on banjo – picking/strumming/string bending her way through another fine piece.
“Off To See The Hangman Pt.2”
A more gentle approach to the same subject, but Pt.2, this time played on guitar, with some terrifc sounds produced. Again, strong equally in melody, and rhythm, with repeditive drone figures, and at a point towards the end, a touch of sitar sounds appears, which is fabulous addition and totally inspired too.
“Face Down Strut”
Great blues picking tune, with solid technique, gives us an invigorating track, excellent stuff, but almost taking your breath away, as were drawn into the spiralling sounds.
Laid back, almost imagining sat in a boat on the river, ine hand trailing in the water, the other with a cool glass of something in it – beautiful.
“Oh, Command Me Lord”
After slow intro the banjo just explodes in your ears, but in a good way of course, into a crazy, exciting solo tour de force of sound. Indeed, such such a pace it goes, it sounds like it’s almost running away with itself.
“Sweep It Up”
Aaaah, a beautiful slide blues composition, right up my street this. With slide melody riding above the blues rhythm, it just makes me nod my head and smile.
“Requiem For John Fahey”
Back to a nice 12 string guitar blues/ragtime sound here. I suppose the title says it all, but I just think it’s well, a another terrific piece of music.
“Dance Of The Everlasting Faint”
Fabulous title, and the content of the music is just as fabulous too. Folk meets middle eastern, meets blues, meets rags, and ragas.
“Bleeding Finger Blues”
With another great title, which sort of sums it up really, as Gwenifer performs it such a pace, i almost imagined the banjo jumping out of her hands a couple of times!
“Sack’em Up Pt.1 and Sack’em Up Pt.2”
Phew, a more sedate piece, this time swapping to guitar. But, wait a minute, Pt.2 takes us somewhere else, a more rhythmic world.
“It Was All Sackcloth And Ashes”
The final track takes us back to guitar slide world, at it’s best. She achieves that magic here, whatever it is, where those very slight spaces in sound, followed by crying slides, interrupted by picked countermelody, take us into Gwenifer Raymond’s soundworld, and what a world it is!!
So here we have a new album by one of the finest instrumentalists, and original performing composers I’ve heard for a while now, who wants to say something she feels, and certainly knows how to do so too. It’s a fantastic , and tantalising mix of genre hopping, but a new individual genre – ‘ Gwenifer Raymond’. A great album, maybe not for the faint hearted, and contented music fan who just ‘likes and knows what they like’ and doesn’t want to hear anything different and exciting, but if you’re out there and want to hear some of the best new music around, get yourself a copy now!!! Check out more on Gwenifer and her music on: gweniferraymond.co.