Well lets dive right in, shall we?
Here’s a story for you
Cerys Matthews is two things to me. If she were neither of these, I don’t know whether I’d secretly be in love with her so much or whether she’d be cataloged off as another oddly named singer songwriter, occasionally mentioned in the afternoon rotation of WFUV.
First off, she was my proof that people who work at record labels, promotion companies, clubs, etc, really really do care about the music they make. I’ve had many internships at music business related companies at this point, and my boss two or three back never seemed to care all that much about the music she was spending so much of her time on. I mean, yeah, the label I was working at at the time had about half a dozen great acts and 20 more who didn’t deserve either her or even my lowly intern time or effort, but even then, it just seemed like it was a job for her. And then, one day, staying later than either of us had signed up for, she was sitting at her computer and I was cataloging CDs in the corner of her office, she put on Cockahoop and Cerys voice, thin high, dangling by a thread so thin you just know it can’t support all its weight and its gonna collapse, its just a matter of when, came on and suddenly my composed adult-hipster boss was the girl who just got asked to dance by the guy she assumed didn’t know her name, and her favorite song just came on for the slow dance and everything turns to suppressed giggles and words you can’t keep in. She told me exactly how much she felt this album (yeah, i remember that “felt” was the word she used), told me the story behind it (Matthews recorded with Bobby Dylan’s backing band, and the whole thing was originally going to be an album of Welsh-sung folksongs), told me about how she saw her once at a concert at a tiny venue in New York about a year prior and she just didn’t know what to say. It was the first time I saw that she meant it, that she loved it, and, even better, that her and I could totally relate. They were the best (unpaid) overtime hours I’ve ever had.
And then winter before this one I went down to the Hackensack River, the root canal in the mouth of northern new jersey, two blocks from my house, and screamed until I thought I felt the salt of blood in the back of my throat. I thought it would get me out of the rut that grey skies and lack of one on one contact had put me in, and while the screaming didn’t, Cery Matthews’ CD, which I had forgotten about entirely, exiled to a spindle I was close to throwing out, was the closest thing to an embrace and a listening ear as I got. The album breaths out exhaustion onto public transportation maps and can’t stand its own lovesongs. This album is the time you were underdressed for the party and sat outside havine a conversation with the valet, one that he left feeling a new person and you left still trying to figure out what his first sentence is. It’s the delicacy of getting lonenly drunk off wine or the way the dulcimer never quite sounds in tune.
She released a new album last summer in the UK (which has yet to find US distrobution), and I can’t say if I love the one song off it I’ve heard because Cerys is the musical equivalent of sickday tomato soup a friend made from scratch (that had too much salt), or because its actually a good song. I’m starting to think the latter.
“Chardonnay” off her 2003 release Cockahoop
“Streets of New York” off her 2006 release Never Said Goodbye