Saw this gent's new album advertised on that there blogosphere (may even have been a link from someone on Twitter, I forget*) and stuck out an investigative snout.
I'm trading in first impressions here and the call of the Xmas High St is strong, so it's a guerilla in/out post.
Two things supplied the hook. The fact that the tweet announced "beautiful sounds" and the fact that Huw M was obviously Welsh. A sucker for pop hiraeth, me.
Initial disappointment as folky fingers hit frets and a slightly wistful voice sang about "pretty flowers" and "some highs and lows" in rather neat rhymes. If someone's going to sing their heart out with an acoustic guitar in the high street of my imagination, I don't want something so sweetly packaged - I want a touch of lunacy, some barking at the inner moon. Or some outstanding melodic leap. Or a lyric that stares me in the eye and dares me not to admire it. Without the poignant backdrop of a heart-wrinkling dusk.
This tune from his earlier album, "Os Mewn Swn" was about "empty seats" ("Seddi Gwag") and this has a track called "empty rooms" ("Ystafelloedd Gwag"), which caught my think - a kind of empty emptiness, an emptiness without any detail to pique me from my own thoughts.
But there are indeed some beautiful sounds - some gorgeous echoing piano and stirring cello business on "Chwyldro Tawel" (Quiet Revolution). But even when things really get going I'm reminded of "Barafundle" or some other magnificent Gorkyness that Huw M doesn't quite touch. Or a bit of Sufjan Stevens without the fragile sense of an emotional cliffhanger. Or Sweet Baboo without the pain in his gut.
So, all in all, probably not one I'm going to chase through the streets very much in future; but sweet and Welsh, which might be enough some of the time. If only it was powerful enough to pull me inside under its own strength.
Rating: Jaunty out of Kilter.
*It may've been Huw Stephens, I think - the looming, bespectacled ginger John Peel of the Taff Valley.