Words by Amardeep Dhillon
Welsh folk lyricism meets ecstatic ghazal lyrics
A series of mash-ups might seem like a flimsy basis for an album, but on Ghazalaw’s debut a prince among ghazal singers and a pioneer of Welsh folk have collided two apparently disparate genres together with delightful results. Tauseef Akhtar’s sonorous tones are perfectly suited to conveying birha, the grief of unattainable love so popular in North Indian ghazal poetry. Gwyneth Glyn’s lighter voice brings from Welsh folk lyrics the concept of hiraeth (an intense longing for a person or place) beautifully to life.
While the poems in each track work well together thematically, it is the depth of emotion with which Akhtar and Glyn recite them that makes the transition from Urdu to Welsh barely perceptible at times. However, Georgia Ruth’s harp is occasionally required to puncture the sustained mellowness of the melodies when they are in danger of sounding bland. But these moments are few and far between, and the addition of a violin, which blurs Welsh and Indian styles, and a crisp tabla beat ensures that this soothing collection is never boring.