This is Video of the Week from Wales Arts Review. We’ll be showcasing some of the best art in Wales with a new video shared every week. From music to drama and everything in between, videos will not be limited by medium. Today’s video is ‘American Interior’ by Gruff Rhys.
It’s here! The final week of our 100 Greatest Welsh Albums of All Time series and our top ten have officially been revealed. While you’ll have to head over to the top ten page to see for yourself the rest of the records that made it into the top 10%, you can first enjoy a look back at the wonderful video for ‘American Interior’ – from the album of the same name – by Gruff Rhys, who came in at number ten on the list with his album American Interior.
Writing on the album for the final ten countdown, John Lavin wrote:
“It’s the framework provided by telling the life of Rhys’ ancestor, John Evans, that really makes this album reach the heights that it does. It gives Rhys a rare focus, and it pays off. Evans was “an orphaned farm hand… [who] left Wales for Baltimore in 1972 and walked alone with $1.75 to his name into the wilderness of the Allegheny mountains… in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native American, believed by some to be the descendants of Prince Madog…” If that sounds like the sort of typically whimsical subject matter that you might expect to find informing a Gruff Rhys concept album then, well, fair enough, but there is a seriousness behind this record that should not be disregarded. In American Interior, Rhys translates his Welsh mountain loneliness to 17th Century mid-America and the results, perhaps most especially as the album draws to a close – and on ‘Walk into the Wilderness’ in particular – are stunning. American Interior was largely recorded in Bright Eyes producer Mike Moggis’ studio in Omaha, Nebraska, and the record has an accordingly alt-America feel to it. But it is also a record that recalls the classic early Super Furry Animals of Fuzzy Logic and Radiator. There surely haven’t been this many classic guitar sounds on a Gruff-led album since 1997. Is the solo on the title track his most straightforward and best, in fact, since ‘Hometown Unicorn’ in 1996? Do the beatific pedal steel-scapes on ‘Tiger’s Tale’ consciously echo Radiator‘s classic ‘Mountain People’? There are also hosts of great pop songs here, like the Love-esque ‘The Whether (Or Not)’ and the Neon Neon-like ‘Lost Tribes’, all of which goes to make this album, which is concerned at heart with forgotten languages, races and customs, one of Rhys’ most commercially accessible records to date. A subversive achievement indeed.”
Watch the video for ‘American Interior’ below, and take a look at albums 10-1 of our 100 Greatest Welsh Albums of All Time countdown here. Plus! Don’t forget to check out the accompanying podcast for seven hours of great Welsh music.
American Interior from Gruff Rhys is streaming now.