Formats and Editions
In a career that has taken him from the slate-mining towns of north-west Wales, down to the expat communities of Patagonia, up to the Mandan tribe of the Great Plains of North America and across to the Tuareg rock groups of the Saharan Desert, Gruff Rhys, one of Britain’s most beloved and successful singer-songwriters, has always been willing to follow an opportunity wherever it may lead him. And so it was that Gruff and his band – Osian Gwynedd (piano), Huw V Williams (double bass) and former Flaming Lips drummer turned Super Furry Animals archivist Kliph Scurlock (drums) – piled into a van to La Frette Studios, a recording facility installed in a 19th-century manor house on the outskirts of Paris, to record Sadness Sets Me Free in just three days. La Frette’s founder Olivier Bloch-Lainé regaled the group with stories from his time working with Brigitte Fontaine in the 60s and bringing Serge Gainsbourg’s go-to string arranger, Jean-Claude Vannier, into the pop world. Absorbing French pop history by night, by day Gruff’s new songs spilled out of the studio at a rate that exceeded even his own legendarily prolific standards. “It was a really intense period,” Gruff says of the sessions. “I’m trying to work as much in capturing moments as making pop confections these days." Opening with the country leanings and a despondent caricature of its title track before careening into the Tropicália-tinged "They Sold My Home To Build A Skyscraper”, on through to the hymnal, hopeful "Cover Up The Cover Up" and then coming full circle with the defiant "I’ll Keep Singing", Sadness Sets Me Freeexalts the power of music to heal the individual and to effect change on a universal scale.