Welsh multi-instrumentalist Gwenifer Raymond is gearing up to release her full-length debut album You Never Were Much Of A Dancer. So far, we’ve heard “Bleeding Finger Blues” and “Sometimes There’s Blood.” Today she shares “Idumea,” a deftly plucked banjo spell.
Its intricate folk melody is Welsh and Celtic in style but American Old West in practice. The rhythmic patterns mimic the swift dynamics of a fiddle with a country twang. Western music was originally influenced by traditional folk music from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland; Raymond’s seamless crossover grows from these historically intersecting roots.
Raymond explains her formative influences in a statement:
When I was about eight years old a pretty formative thing happened to me … my mum bought me a cassette tape of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Being so young I’d had no real interest in music prior to that, but I did have a “My First Sony” cassette player that I used to listen to audiobooks. Anyway, I put the tape in, pressed play, and what I heard blew my little 8 year old mind. I don’t know what it was about that wall of sound that so captured me, but I spent many hours hyperactively running around the house with headphones on, volume at full blast, and Nevermind on repeat. It was either for Christmas or my birthday that year, that I asked for a guitar.
I spent all my teenage years playing either guitar or drums in various punk and rock outfits around the Welsh valleys, but around that time I was also getting seriously into older stuff, Dylan, The Velvet Underground and the like. Through those cheap compilation CDs you could get then, I found that a common influence amongst these guys was pre-war delta and country blues, as well as Appalachian music. Eventually I stumbled upon Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James and Roscoe Holcomb, and they became the holy trinity of musicians I so wanted to able to play like. Eventually, I tracked down a blues man in Cardiff who could teach me and it was in studying these guys that I was introduced to John Fahey and the whole American Primitive thing.
Listen to “Idumea” below.
You Never Were Much Of A Dancer is out 6/29 via Tompkins Square. Pre-order it here.