Toby Hay – The Gathering
‘The Gathering’ is the debut album from Rhayader’s folk guitar virtuoso who has been steadily building his reputation and confidence as a solo performer throughout Wales in recent years. All tracks on the album are composed by Hay and augmented by additional string players including Angela Chan (Lanterns on the Lake).
The music has been inspired by particular places or events such as the opener “Mayfair at Rhayader 1927”. Written after viewing archive footage, its haunting melody manages to evoke the sense of a very familiar place through mist of time. Elsewhere there is the simple beauty of “Claerwen” which reflects the duality of the man-made reservoir and dam set amongst the surrounding hills.
One of Hay’s strength’s is his ability to take melodies and develop themes that ebb and flow and evolve until they eventually reach some sort of resolution. A case in point is “Starlings” which is inspired by the sight of birds gathering and moving in the sky known as a murmuration; a swooping mass of thousands of starlings whirling in the sky above your head. With his impassioned melodies and intricate and expressive playing he manages to convey the immense and overpowering wonder of such a sight.
In an age of often soulless banality and corporate uniformity the fact that one man and an acoustic guitar can create music as authentic and uplifting as this is testimony to Toby Hay’s talent and promise for the future.