The three brothers Hughes along with Llyr Pari (guitars), Branwen Williams (organ and vocals) and Euron Jones (Pedal Steel) call the Llyn Peninsula in Northwest Wales home and staunchly retain their Welsh roots to the extent of singing entirely in Welsh. The music is largely country and folk based and even though I wasn’t able to understand a single word I found the music utterly captivating.
It is crucial that the music takes centre stage if you want to avoid becoming a novelty act and the Cowboys play well enough, with melody and emotional intensity that any other considerations are irrelevant.
The album opens with ‘Glaw’ and the combination of Tonto Pari’s softly strummed guitar, Branwen Williams organ and Euron Jones’ keening pedal steel immediately give you a sense of warm melancholia –country music rarely gets more beautiful. Iwan Hughes vocals are slightly flat-toned but stand as a perfect counterpoint to the richness of the music and when he harmonises with his brothers and especially with Branwen Williams they create a superbly heartful sound.
Most of the songs on the album were written by the band but one of the best tracks ‘Deio Bach’ is a traditional number led by Branwen Williams solo vocals. The backing is gently rolling and perfectly suits the song name – Deio Bach is Welsh for Little Deio and is probably Dafydd Williams – with feather-soft percussion from Dafydd Hughes and Iwan playing Harmonium as a drone.
When they rock out, as on 'Llanw Ucha' Eriod' they really tear it up but their natural place is retrained and emotional.
This is a truly delightful album, mixing folk and country and perfectly capturing the soul.