"You can take the boy out of the valley . . . but you can't take the valley out of the boy." / Frank Hennessy BBC Radio Wales
2008 Grand Prize Winner - John Lennon songwriting
Contest - Folk Category.
2007 Winner - Kerrville Folk Festival "New Folk" competition.
Award-winning Welsh folk singer David Llewellyn had to venture far away from home to find his way back. After transformative migrations to London, Austin, and Nashville, David now returns to his roots with the aptly titled, Homeward (DabHand Records), an organic guitar and voice album comprising songs about his upbringing in the culture of Wales.
David Llewellyn is best known for blending contemporary acoustic music, Celtic instrumentation, and the Welsh folk tradition with lyrics that paint emotional landscapes from a palette smudged with Rhondda gray, valley green regret, deep sea blues of sorrow and joy, and the scarlet scars of the workingmen’s plight. Back home, BBC Wales says "Of course, you can take the boy out of the valley . . . but you can't take the valley out of the boy." David is a virtuosic guitar player with a myriad of folk traditions under his fingertips, and his vocals resonate with depth and sweetness. Sing Out! praises his expressive baritone saying “he could sing your grocery list.”
In 2004, David issued his self-titled debut on DabHand Records. The album created a stir in folk communities internationally with many fans focused on David’s adaption of the traditional Welsh love song “Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn.” David Llewellyn gained Top 10 radio plays on a variety of folk charts and sold impressively well nationally and internationally for an independent release on a niche label. David went on to win the prestigious International John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the folk category, and became a mainstay at the Kerrville Folk Festival, appearing on the festival’s main
stage and winning the "New Folk" competition. In 2008, David partnered with the critically acclaimed Swedish folk singer Ida Kristin and the duo recently issued their debut, Songs Around The Kitchen Table. It’s tender, inventive harmonies and interlaced guitar parts, all played together, take their co-written songs to that sweet spot reserved for very special moments.
David was born in London but was raised in his mother’s South Wales. Growing up, he was as mesmerized by his Uncle’s stories of coalmining and Welsh culture as he was by U.S. 1970s singer-songwriters like John Denver, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Don McLean, and classic crooners like Nat “King” Cole and Bing Crosby. These influences taken together prefigured his distinct sensibility. In his 20s, he earned his stage legs in the rough and tumble workingmen’s club scene in the UK and Wales. It would be moving to the United States that helped him discover his gifts for songcraft through exploring country music in Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee. The genre’s storyline-based lyrics, and, especially the fertile Nashville scene centered around the Bluebird Café, put him on the path to discovering his personal storyteller music, Welsh folk.
“At some point, I realized I had not returned to Wales in 10 years, so back I went. As soon as I took my first breath of the valley's air, I knew that, although the wonderful songwriting cities of Austin and Nashville may have honed my skills, and taught me the ‘craft,’ it was Wales, it's Celtic traditions and working class communities, that I had to draw from for my inspiration,” he says. “That has drawn me back to my roots. “
His latest album, Homeward, is elegantly spare, with just guitar and vocals embellished by Celtic touches and flourishes courtesy of modern folk icon John Mock. The album is part love letter and part compassionate documentary of traditional Welsh culture. “Silent Aberfan” covers a tragedy in which a half million tons of coal waste slipped down a mountainside onto a small mining town in South Wales crushing a school full of young children. The track “The Grey Mists Of Laugharne” is a fond homage to the greatest Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas who died in New York.
Onstage, David truly embraces folk’s tradition of being a storyteller’s medium. His song intros, and between song banter, brim with captivating lore and personal memoir. “I love when you can cast a magic spell, and take everyone with you. I feel deeply that opening someone’s heart to a smile or a tear is my goal,” he says.
“I am a journeyman,” David says of the path that took him to his most realized and authentic musical statement, Homeward. “It takes time to write personally and talk about your roots in song—you need time and distance to get that perspective. But this album brings everything in my life together—this is who I am.”