Gruff Rhys – ‘American Interior.’ (Turnstile)
Sometime Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys isn’t a man to do things by halves. His fourth solo album is also an app, a book and a film. It’s inspired by a distant relative of his called John Evans, who ‘left Wales for Baltimore in 1792 and walked into the wilderness of the Allegheny mountains in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans, believed to be the descendants of Prince Madog.’
Now, that’s pretty brilliant just written down. I have yet to encounter book, film or app (to the best of my knowledge these weren’t on offer to reviewers), but the album is fantatsic. It’s inspired by Evans’ original journey.
The title track’s been picking up airplay on 6Music, and is a pretty great tune on its own, but ultimately it makes even more sense as part of this lovely album. Now into his third decade of making music, Rhys is as much a renaissance man as Damon Albarn (I mean that as a compliment) who has the songs and voice to go with the vision. Just as the Proclaimers were proud to sing in Scottish accents, so Rhys is proud to sing in his Welsh accent, and unravel this strange and fascinating tale.
Punk’s (supposed) scorched earth policy left the idea of the concept album almost for dead. This hangs together rather wonderfully, and whether SFA ever come back off hiatus, it’s clear that this is a man with some wonderful and truly unique songs to share.
American Interior is released by Turnstile on May 5.