Album: The Gentle Good – Tethered for the Storm

Cardiff’s Gareth Bonello draws on a variety of influences and two languages on this follow-up to his 2008 debut album While You Slept I Went Out Walking. An equally redolent title this time around points to tranquility, just what is provided as both parts of Bonello’s pseudonym prove accurate.

The moving ‘Pamela’ evokes its ethereal title character’s anguish through haunting strings and maudlin lyrics about the fading of memories, while ‘Holly Blue’ sees Bonello captivated by the eponymous butterfly and devoting a summer to the search for her.

As a man generally drawn into songs by their lyrics, the beauty of those in languages unknown to me lies in the necessity to connect in a different way. Such is the case with the Welsh-language tracks herein, with the acappella ‘Deuawd’ – a duet with 9bach’s Lisa Jen, a sometime Gruff Rhys collaborator – demonstrating the Celtic tongue’s musicality and ease on the ear. ‘Closer Cysgod y Dur’ draws on Cardiff’s industrial history, opening with the clangs and grinds of the steelworks and shaping up as a polar opposite to ‘Holly Blue’, but drifts along just as pleasantly and ‘Llosgi Pontydd’ plinks by on a jaunty finger-picked melody.

My one criticism would be the lack of much change of pace, with even the whooshes of wind on the instrumental title track failing to truly conjure up said “storm” – but for a low-key, soothing listen, there is little not to like.

Words: Tom White