The Foxglove Trio comprises of Ffion Mair, Cathy Mason and Patrick Dean. Their debut EP was released in March of this year, and contains five beautifully crafted songs in English and in Welsh. Ffion possesses a brilliant voice and sings with so much clarity that it is natural for the listener to be drawn to the story telling aspects of the songs. Furthermore, for someone like me, who speaks a small amount of Welsh, Ffion’s voice is ideal for trying to follow the story lines in the Welsh lyrics. Cathy Mason, who is a talented multi –instrumentalist, plays guitar and cello on the EP. Patrick Dean is a brilliant melodeon, cello and concertina player. Both Cathy and Patrick sing on some of the tracks.
The EP contains the wonderful song ‘Newry Town’. The words are set to a new tune and, although I really like the old one, this version suits the lyrics incredibly well. The story contained in the song is about a highway man who robs the rich in order to supply his wife with gifts. However, this has severe consequences when he caught and serves as a warning against thievery. Ffion’s whistle playing on the track is also fantastic.
My favourite song is ‘The Sign of the Bonny Blue Bell’. This is probably the most catchy and cheerful songs on the EP. Although the lyrics have very little meaning, the tune is lovely. Furthermore, I particularly like this instrumentation on this track and the vocal harmonies. This, combined with Ffion’s fantastic singing, create a really enjoyable song to listen to.
‘Betsy Bell and Mary Grey’ is a song about a man who is in love with two women. In the song the merits of the two women are compared. The song has a rather dramatic tune and accompaniment, containing rhythmic melodeon playing by Patrick. The song finishes with the traditional tune ‘Morrison’s Jig’ which shows off the musical talents of the trio and is certainly a toe tapper of a tune.
The song ‘Cariad Cyntaf’ (First Love) begins with a haunting cello line played by Cathy Mason. Patrick plays the melodeon the track which creates a more joyful element to the song during the second verse that suits the lyrics more than the initial haunting accompaniment. According to the sleeve notes the lyrics contain a story about two lovers discussing their plans for getting married. The second song in welsh on the EP is ‘Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn’. This, again, is a song about two lovers; however, it certainly does not have a story in which everything ends happily. It was written by Wil Hopcyn, in the 18th century, about his love for the daughter of a wealthy land owner, Ann, who was forced to marry a different man against her will. Wil supposedly wrote these lyrics ones he had left the village. It is said that at this time Wil had a dream about the man Ann had married dying and he rushed back to Ann in the hope of being able to marry her, to find that the dream was wrong, and it was in fact Ann who had died. The song contains a wonderful guitar accompaniment. Both these songs are sung with a lot of emotion and it is certainly not necessary to comprehend Welsh in order to understand some of the emotion behind the lyrics.
Considering this is a debut EP, I am sure we can expect more fantastic music from this trio in the future. Also, it is incredibly clear that they are all fantastic musicians.
Link to their website : http://www.thefoxglovetrio.co.uk/
YouTube video of Cariad Cyntaf: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7063zFY_jc