Three tracks from Bill Ryder-Jones lat­est album sur­faced towards the close of 2023. They hint­ed at the rich­ness and emo­tion­al depth in store for lis­ten­ers of Iechyd Da, which saw its release on Fri­day 12th Jan­u­ary. The result is a sol­id, beau­ti­ful col­lec­tion of songs, and the tim­ing could not have been bet­ter as we look for some uplift­ing music to bring light to a gloomy January.

Iechyd Da opens in lan­guid fash­ion with the first track: I Know That It’s Like This (Baby) – a ten­der bal­lad with a retro feel, its 60’s style lyrics pro­claim­ing, “One kiss and I’m in heav­en”. A sud­den shift in tem­po moves us away from the swoony bal­lad as Ryder-Jones analy­ses what sent this rela­tion­ship off course: “I will nev­er be enough for you, I know”. The track blends his warm, grav­el­ly vocals with a cap­ti­vat­ing cho­rus and a rich com­bi­na­tion of piano and strings.

Mov­ing on to A Bad Wind Blows in my Heart pt 3, the track moves through dif­fer­ent stages as the tale of heartache unfolds: “ ‘“Oh how I loved you”, Ryder-Jones wist­ful­ly recalls. The final sec­tion sees the inten­si­ty build, allow­ing the strings to reach a crescen­do before fad­ing away. It’s a pow­er­ful and dra­mat­ic moment.

Of the tracks which were unveiled last year, I was cap­ti­vat­ed by the emo­tive track If Tomor­row Starts With­out Me, as pre­vi­ous­ly reviewed. Who could not be plunged into maudlin self-pity at imag­in­ing your loved ones hav­ing to car­ry on with­out your joy­ous pres­ence? The warmth of the piano adds res­o­nance and depth to this emo­tion­al­ly charged piece. Anoth­er sen­si­tive num­ber is I Hold Some­thing in my Hand – a gen­tle, melod­ic and ten­der composition. 

At around the halfway mark, the album reach­es a high point with the mas­ter­piece, a pre­vi­ous sin­gle, This Can’t Go On. It’s an anthemic pro­duc­tion on a grand scale with its impas­sioned vocals, as Ryder-Jones con­fronts the trau­mas of his life, beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed in the accom­pa­ny­ing video. 

There’s a Mas­sive Attack feel to anoth­er gid­di­ly euphor­ic track, Noth­ing To Be Done, deliv­er­ing a no-holds-barred assault of strings, drone and cho­rus. It’s an immer­sive track with a sweep­ing sense of grandeur.

Iechyd Da, in its entire­ty, explores a wide spec­trum of emo­tions, blend­ing joy and melan­cho­lia. Yet, an over­ar­ch­ing sense of pos­i­tiv­i­ty per­vades, cast­ing a sun­ny fil­ter cast over the entire work. Ryder-Jones’ care­worn and under­stat­ed vocals del­i­cate­ly weave their nar­ra­tive, enhanc­ing the emo­tion­al tapes­try of the music.

The album title Iechyd Da means good health in Welsh. Says The Coral co-founder Ryder-Jones: “Over the years my music has lost a bit of its hope I reck­onIt were impor­tant for me to make a record that had more hope in it. Even by my stan­dards the last few years have been rocky, but I’ve cho­sen to sound­track it with more pos­i­tive music, you know?” 

Iechyd Da is avail­able to pre-order on Dom­Mart. Exclu­sive coloured vinyl (with post­card), Indies-exclu­sive coloured vinyl, stan­dard vinyl, CD and digitally. 

Pre-order: Dom Mart | Dig­i­tal
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