29 / 03 / 2017
CD / LP / DL
I first listened to The Gathering late in the day, late in the year – the year of Trump, of Brexit, of tides of darkness rising fast on all sides. And for a bright hour, Toby Hay’s music cast strong light, fought the shadows back a little. The tracks of this album – quick-fingered, deep-felt – open landscapes in the mind’s eye. It feels, listening to them, as if they have a little of the power – the power that linguists call ‘illocutionary’ and magicians call ‘conjuring’ – to summon things into being, or bring pasts briefly back to life. It came as no surprise to learn that Toby has sometimes hoped that the playing of ‘Starlings’ (in which the notes teem and swoop and swarm) might one day call up an actual murmuration. Place, memory, nature, loss and dreamed-of geographies are the subjects of this beautiful music: that gathering of feelings that go by the untranslatable Welsh word hiraeth. There is a sadness at what has gone here, but not a nostalgia. The world’s dew gleams on this music, but the world’s dust swirls through it too.
Something of a young troubadour, Hay makes compositions that feel both incredibly detailed and beautifully light. A rising star and so much more.
“Hay’s album is a stunning turning point in what we have come to call folk music. A beautiful, frank and mysterious statement..”
“Time-worn and wistful for days long past, Hay’s music overflows with heart and soul, and though wholly born from personal experience, exudes a humanity that makes it universally relatable. How heartening it is to be reminded that there’s still room in this world for music of such genuine character.”
“The Gathering is a brilliantly conceived and realised debut record and its locational compositions contain some of the most emotive and expressive new music you’ll hear this year.”
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