REVIEW: Hanner Chant – ‘Eurdy’ (album download)

Karen Sawyer, who lives near Crymych, has been making music for over 20 years, under her own name, or with a bewildering variety of bands – some of whom are featured on this new album, Eurdy, including Tous, Quiet Noise, and The Yewdrops.

Hanner Chant (she pronounces it Hanner Cant or Half Century in English – Karen is currently learning Cymraeg) and it's the name under which she has decided to release her first album, now that she has reached the stately age of 50.

Eurdy (‘treasure-house’) is a collection of her favourites, chosen from a lifetime of music-making collaborations spanning the decades. She describes this eclectic collection as a Cabinet of Curiosities, being similarly “marked by curiosity, shading into credulity, and by some sort of universal underlying design”.

Although recorded with many musicians over a quarter of a century, the songs on this album are all consistent with Karen’s musical vision, which often takes as its’ muse the environment and all its spiritual fascination. The songs inhabit a world of dreamy left field electronica that absorbs elements of trip hop, psychedelic rock, frat folk, and several genres yet to be named, with Karen’s voice always to the fore.

‘Elementary’ is currently my favourite track, a track which epitomises the feel, passion, and paradox that infuses the whole album.

It’s a song which mashes up quotes from a Sherlock Holmes tale with Karen’s percipient lyrics – “Life is complicated /To a microscope mind /The heart is simple and real/And how I feel /Is elementary” – and is surely a rail against those who dice, divide and dissect the world in a search for meaning while failing to relish the beauty of nature and wallow in its wonder.

Karen is also a critically acclaimed author and her photograph of arguably west Wales’ finest cromlech (and yes, that does include Pentre Ifan) which is the gorgeous image that graces the cover of the album, won a Wikipedia Award a few years ago.

Buy the album. Listen. Let it wash (but not waft) over you. You know it makes sense –

BB Skone