Gruff Rhys

American Interior

Turnstile

Dec 08, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Sometime Super Furry Animals frontman and Neon Neon mouthpiece, Gruff Rhys, uses his solo albums as a vehicle for travel and self-discovery. On his fourth venture, American Interior, it was not enough to produce only an album; Rhys has also filmed a documentary film, written a book, and developed an app. The motivation behind this undertaking is John Evans, a distant ancestor of Rhys' who left their native Wales in search of Welsh-speaking aboriginal North Americans. Specifically, the descendants of legendary Welshman Madog ab Owain Gwynedd, credited by folklore as being the original discoverer of the Americas.

220 years after Evans departed Wales, Rhys set off on his quest, following Evans' footsteps. All his movements are documented-including a few select shows in unusual locationsthrough writings, images, and video, hence the resultant multi-media package accompanying American Interior. After the short intro song "American Exterior," the album starts proper with the title track, an ode to the American dream. It is followed by the galloping Wild West-influenced "100 Unread Messages." Pianos drive the uncharacteristically light "Liberty (Is Where I'll Be)," which would fit better in a down-tempo lounge setting instead of Rhys' surrealist mindspace. "Iolo" bursts in as the ambitious soundtrack to exploring previously uncharted territories, representing both Evans and Rhys.

The stories of the two men commingle on American Interior, with the lines between contemporary and historical events becoming blurred. But the majority of American Interior plays out like a quintessential Super Furry Animals album, complete with Rhys' mournful warble and with a touch more clarity. (www.gruffrhys.com)

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