New Welsh Review

Mai by Georgia Ruth

Georgia Ruth proves in her new folk album Mai that she is on a steady upward trajectory

PUBLISHED ON: 15/11/20


TAGS: Aberystwyth, Wales, Welsh artist, Welsh language, album release, female vocalist, folk music, music, place

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Evocation of locales that hold a personal connection to artists is a common feature in the medium of music. Rich soundscapes will frequently echo places, times and atmospheres, either by alluding to them through lyrics and instrumentation, or as a result of being produced in a particular environment.

Mai, the latest release from Welsh artist Georgia Ruth, serves as a pertinent example of this phenomenon when taking into account its relation to the seaside town of Aberystwyth. Returning to her hometown, Ruth composed and recorded a number of tracks for her third studio album in the Joseph Parry Hall, its name shared with the Welsh musician of great renown. As such, much of the inspiration for Mai is drawn from a place immersed in Welsh culture and musical history, which seeps into Ruth’s own pieces. With her graceful harpistry and gentle vocal performances in both the Welsh and English languages, Mai’s textured tracks see Ruth speaking to the natural world at its most lively, echoing our lavish vistas and pastoral traditions. The title track ‘Mai’, positioned as the centrepiece of the record, brings great power to explorations of nature. Progressive instrumental passages woven by Ruth’s harp embody the beauty of our landscapes in an emotionally rich manner, one perhaps uniquely attainable through music.

This is not to say, however, that Ruth’s ambitions lie simply in repackaging an aesthetic. Her musical trajectory leading up to Mai reveals a penchant for thoughtfulness which continues throughout this album. Taking the album title’s suggestion of spring into account (Mai is Welsh for the month of May), Ruth embodies the season’s characteristic of blossoming new plant life, and juxtaposes it with her experiences as a recent mother, merging together a joyous celebration of birth and rebirth. Individual cuts such as ‘Madryn’ and ‘7 Rooms’ explore both of these interlinked concepts in-depth, the latter reflecting on a lived hospital experience of Ruth’s, while the former explores her fascination with nature in a more abstract way: both are equally effective. This emotional resonance with the forces of nature grows more nuanced still as Ruth draws parallels between the anxieties of motherhood and the difficulties faced in our environment in contemporary times. The climate crisis is felt through passages which lament disturbances in the cycle of seasons, drawing into focus a sense of uncertainty. That said, this elegiac mood is generally overpowered by the joyfulness of Ruth’s music, creating a listening experience both deeply pleasant and thoughtful.

Ruth’s songwriting and lyrical ability also reaches a creative high point in ‘Mai’, demonstrating a flair for introspective material without sacrificing her poppier cuts. Songs such as ‘Close for Comfort’ and ‘Cypress’ dig into matters of domestic anxiety while maintaining a near-seamless catchiness, no matter which language she chooses to sing in. Her voice (as is the case with her songs’ hooks) seems to flow almost effortlessly, another characteristic that connects to the natural world.

Georgia Ruth proves in  Mai that she is on a steady upward trajectory. The album manages to feel intimate and personal, mirroring near-universal expressions of natural environments with individual, human conflicts. Intelligent songwriting and thematic concerns are paired with an effortlessly heartwarming sound produced through the artist’s unique talents. Fans of folk music will find here an exciting and entertaining experience.


Oliver Heath studies at Aberystwyth University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.


Mai is available from the Bubblewrap Collective.