The Old Tales are Calling Me

The Old Tales are Calling Me

After both The Cauldron Born and Antlered Crown and Standing Stone I took a long break from writing songs. I was creatively wrung out and needed some time to be in stillness and reflect on what to do next.

Not so this time…

I want to take you back to September 2012 and the final song I recorded on Antlered Crown and Standing Stone. It was the 8 minute epic Ceridwen and Taliesin and I’d never really attempted anything like it before. It was an entire story told with music, lyrics, and spoken word. The melody changed within the song to reflect the changing scenes and it even had voices acted by myself as the transformed Gwion Bach and Kate Fletcher as the chasing Ceridwen. I loved the process and it planted a seed for the future.

But I knew that seed needed time to germinate and establish.

So after about 6 months I began to open to the writing of what became Sabbat, my 7th studio album that was released just over two weeks ago. I’m so glad I waited. Sabbat was a joy to write and record from beginning to end and I’m about as pleased with it as a complete body of work as it’s possible to be. However, there’ll be no stillness this time. What was planted with Ceridwen and Taliesin is now ready to bring out of the greenhouse and plant into fresh soil.

The Mabinogion has been a huge influence on my spirituality and music over the years. I have written Oak Broom and Meadowsweet, Blodeuwedd and Branwen’sbeddbranwen5 Lament all of which are aspects of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion, but I now want to take things further. I would have loved to have had a musical retelling of the complete Four Branches when I was a young Bard. I would still love it now! Well, those old tales are calling me and so my next studio album will be called

Y Mabinogi.

It will probably be a double album and if we were going back to the old days of vinyl each side would be dedicated to one of the Four Branches. My aim is for it to include spoken word storytelling, music, and song and take the listener on a complete journey through each tale. It’s going to be quite a task, but one that I am completely up for and so looking forward to surrendering myself into. During the journey I’m planning to visit some of the sites from the tales, commune with Bran, Branwen, Rhiannon, Pwyl, Gwydion and all of the other Children of Don, Llyr and Beli, and ask for their guidance as I retell their stories.

And of course I want to bring you on that journey too through these blog posts and newsletters.

So that’s where I’ll be for the foreseeable future, and what a place to be heading!

29 responses to “The Old Tales are Calling Me”

  1. wonderful! I can’t hardly wait. Your music has such a profound impact on my spiritual life I can not thank you enough.
    Blessed Be

  2. I’m very much looking forward to hearing it and following along with the journey of creating, Damh! 🙂 Your songs that you’ve already written about the branches of the Mabinogion really helped me to remember the stories and connect with them on another level. I found myself humming some of them as I read for the first time, because I realized I had heard the story before through song!

    “Cerridwen and Taliesin” is one of my absolute favorite myths- and that song is probably my favorite song that you’ve written (if I was forced to choose just one). I’m very excited to hear about your new project.

    Forest Blessings,
    Brenna Adaira

  3. I love the idea of your proposed next album. I was born in England but of Welsh parents and now live in Talley, a very small village in west Wales and I have really connected with all your past songs about Welsh folklore.
    If I could make a wish, it would be you would come and do a live tour of Wales and the cherry on top would be with Spiral Dance backing you !

  4. Ceridwen and Taliesin is one of my favourites so I will keep an eye out for this upcoming album…….ooooh and maybe a double album….Damh…you are really spoiling us!

  5. Sigh. Made me so happy to read this. I was born and live in Australia, but your music has been a life line to my ancestry. Please tell me more stories!

  6. Your music was such a help to me when I started on my path. I learnt so much from listening to your songs and I love nothing more now, than to switch off the t.v of an evening and listen to your songs. Absolutely love the song Sabbat! Really looking forward to hearing updates on your newest venture and will certainly be one of the first in the queue when the album is finished.

  7. Fantastic! I will look forward to hearing about your travels and writing process as much as I will enjoy the finished album,

  8. great concept Damh!
    My daughter is named for the Goddess Branwen which makes her proud and she likes that it was her name as a princess as well.

  9. You have us hooked already, what a fantastic idea Damh. Your gift of musical translation is very inspiring.

  10. What a wonderful task you have set for yourself( or tasked by the gods and goddesses maybe) . I expect that you will have lots of divine inspiration for this work so am really looking forward to the result. Blessings Damh and love to Cerri , hope that she is healing after her operation.

  11. It is simply quite unfair how terribly excited this makes me.

    Also, it gives me the faintest glimmer of hope for a future similar project done with the Irish material.

  12. It’s my favourite track and I’m so happy that you’re going to be bringing that story telling joy to more of the old stories. Ceridwen & Talesin came alive for me the day I first heard that song. You were definitely meant to do this
    Blessed be )O(

  13. Wow. I’ve just read it and thought, wow. I’m completely speechless (well, nearly), I can hardly wait. But take your time … Take this as a definite pre-order (I know it doesn’t work this way). Double Album? Unbelievable. I’d pay any price for that! When that task is ceompleted it surely will be a masterpiece of storytelling.
    BTW, I love your new album, can’t stop listening to it.

    Peaceful greetings /|\

  14. This is so exciting!! What a journey for you to take, and how honoured we are to be able to go along with you in some way through your blog posts 🙂

  15. I’m so excited to hear this! And the timing of this announcement is amazing to me. I started playing “Antlered Crown and Standing Stone” for my children a few days ago, and my 6 year old is taken with “Ceridwen and Taliesin”. I can’t wait to enjoy more tales and share them with my children!

  16. What a brilliant idea: I know that you decided to step back a little from live gigs while Sabbat was growing and perhaps the same will need to be true while you work on the CD of Y Mabinogi but when you’ve finished and we’ve all bought the CD ….. have you thought about a touring version?

    Have you come across the projects of Mick Ryan? He’s written a number of “folk operas” such as “The Navvy’s Wife”, “The Pauper’s Path” and “A Day’s Work”. He usually tours his productions at folk festivals but, more significantly, also in village halls etc, getting songs and stories out to audiences that wouldn’t normally hear such music.

    As a long-term project, what about touring a version of Y Mabinogi? Would it be possible to get a group of folk and pagan musicians, actors and story-tellers together to bring these tales to a wider, non-pagan audience? As a mixture of music, song, spoken word, poetry, action and perhaps even dance (and just think what Cerri could bring to set design), it has the potential to be attractive to such a wide range of people.

    I’m not sure this flight of fantasy of getting you to produce a “stage version” is appropriate as a reply on your blog (particularly as it’s suggesting even more work for you) so I’m happy if it doesn’t get past the moderation process but perhaps it’s sown a little seed. Whatever happens your CD will be fantastic.

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