The Gentle Good
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The Gentle Good

Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom | INDIE

Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom | INDIE
Solo Folk Celtic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Gentle Good - Tethered for the storm"

Tethered For The Storm
(Gwymon CD013)

The Gentle Good is Cardiff-based Gareth Bonello, rippling, fluent acoustic guitarist and maker of penetrating songs of real insight, and Tethered For The Storm constitutes ten tracks of such fantastic beauty. Gareth, a Welsh-language speaker, works at St Fagans National History Museum and spends his time doing gigs in Wales and England, including The Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Glastonbury, Lorient Interceltique and Washington DC in America. Among his guests on this CD are the scintillating West Wales harper Harriet Earis; Lisa Jên of the band 9bach and Cate le Bon on harmony; and the wonderful Mavron Quartet, comprising Christina Mavron (first violin), Katy Rowe (second violin), Niamh Ferris on viola and Lucy Simmonds on ‘cello - this is a mouth-watering taster, and we haven’t even begun to listen to the first track!

The Gentle Good’s set is sprinkled with soothing, summery English-language songs with a wistful sense, and a good proportion of shimmering Welsh-language ones, too – of these ten tracks, a good four are Welsh, including Cysgod Y Dur, memories of when Cardiff was a steel city. Lisa Jên duets lusciously with Gareth on Deuawd, and don’t forget Colled and Llosgi Pontydd either; they’re all outstanding songs, Apart from his guitar, Gareth plays banjo, a ‘cello solo, mandolin, piano and keyboard; the mysterious, wonderful Aubade, about two lovers wishing the inevitable dawn away, makes for a classic starter.

Tethered For The Storm is an album of sheer delight, for which Seb Goldfinch’s outstanding string arrangements and Llion Robertson’s production, engineering and mixing have played their part; but it’s Gareth who is the main man and who is right there at the start. - Folk Wales

"The Gentle Good - Tethered For The Storm 8.5/10"

may be a result of the vast, sprawling countryside, or it might be the Celtic mysticism of a nation that traditionally recounted legends and folk tales in ballads and song, but Wales has always had a thriving folk music scene dating back to the late 60's and the formation of the Sain record label (a subsidiary of which, Gwymon, is responsible for releasing this album). Tethered For The Storm is the second album by Welsh singer/songwriter Gareth Bonello, aka The Gentle Good, and its delicate, beautifully arranged songs deserve to reach a wider audience.

The decision to record a mixture of English and Welsh language songs, although maybe not the best move commercially, is a successful one artistically. For whilst the Welsh language can be a nightmare for the non-Cymry to pronounce or spell, it has a unique sound and rhythm that works beautifully in song. This is highlighted on 'Deuawd', sung by Bonello together with a female vocalist with no musical backing, instead allowing the harmony of the vocals to create its own music. Meanwhile 'Llosgi Pontydd' sees Bonello's gentle picking accompanied by some delicate strings to a haunting effect. It helps that Bonello is blessed with a sonorous voice that strongly recalls Mark Kozelek of the Red House Painters, to the extent that many of the English language tracks, barring a slight Welsh lilt to his voice, could have come from the Painters' Ocean Beach album. This is especially true of the brooding 'Pamela', one of the album highlights.

Tethered For The Storm wont appeal to everyone. Indeed, part of the appeal of singer/songwriters comes from the understanding of lyrics and enjoying the poetry of the author's words. However, in this case, the Welsh language tracks are so beguiling that it'd take a cold heart not to fall in love with them. Even more importantly with the mixture of language, the album works as a whole package, and one which deserves to be cherished.

- The 405

"The Gentle Good - Tethered for the storm"

Inspired by Welsh traditional music and the guitar picking heroes of the 60s folk revival The Gentle Good create intricate yet beautiful modern folk music tinted with psychedelia.
Based around the song writing of Gareth Bonello, The Gentle Good have been performing since 2005, releasing several records including two albums that drew comparisons with such luminaries as Nick Drake, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, John Martyn and Donovan.
As an experienced live act The Gentle Good have played at home and abroad at festivals such as Glastonbury, Latitude, The Green Man, End of the Road, The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Lorient Interceltique and South by Southwest.
The Second album Tethered for the Storm is out now and features many of Cardiff’s finest musicians, as well as gorgeous string arrangements written by Seb Goldfinch and performed by the Mavron Quartet. Beautiful harmonies come courtesy of Welsh folk sirens Cate le bon and Lisa Jên.
Gareth was recently awarded the Composer of the Year Award 2011 by BBC Radio Cymru. This coming autumn Gareth will be spending time abroad working on a new album with traditional folk musicians to be released in 2012.
“Folk Beauty” – Huw Stephens BBC Radio 1
“Perffaith” (Perfect) 10/10 – Y Selar
“Breathtaking” Mojo 4 stars ****
“something of a folk genius” 8.5/10 – The 405
“…to be savoured and cherished” Artrocker 4 stars ****
“A wonderful soundscape to be explored” Maverick Country 3.5 stars****
“One of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard in a long time”
Folk Radio UK - Welsh Music Prize

"Welsh folk musician tells of creating a concept album with Chinese musicians Read more: Wales Online"

When he left Cardiff for Chengdu, Gareth Bonello was determined to blend Welsh folk music with traditional Chinese sounds. Here The Gentle Good frontman tells Nathan Bevan about the difficulties in trying to cross that continental cultural divide

PLAINTIVE Welsh folk music and the Sichuan province of China probably don’t, upon first glance, seem like immediately obvious bedfellows.

Yet after only a short time talking to Gareth Bonello, the Cardiff based singer-songwriter behind Cardiff acoustic outfit The Gentle Good, the pairing suddenly seems much less unlikely.

That’s because Bonello, who also works as education officer at St Fagans National History Museum on the outskirts of the capital, recently spent seven weeks in the south-western Chinese city of Chengdu as part of an ambitious project focussed on writing new music and building international relationships.

“It all started last October when I was lucky enough to get a grant from the British Council and PRS for Music Foundation to go do a music residency over there,” says Bonello.

“I’d been reading a lot of a Chinese poet called Li Bai at the time, so when I applied my proposal was that my trip should revolve around me writing an album based around his life and work that would fuse Welsh and Chinese folk.

“Bai’s poems contain the same elements as the melancholic Welsh folk songs that I sing,” he adds. “They can be bleak, with lots of loneliness and sorrow, not to mention the sort of nature imagery I love to use in my own lyrics.

“I like to think of it as a kind of cross-continental, multi-cultural concept album.”

And Bonello’s mission to meld hiraeth-inducing finger-picked melodies with the more traditional instrumentation and scales of the Far East saw him touch down in the Orient with little more than a suitcase, a guitar slung round his shoulder and wide-open expectations.

“I was put in touch with an organisation called The Chengdu Associated Theatre of Performing Art, which is a quite a large organisation that encompasses all sorts of disciplines under one roof, from acrobatics and dancing to acting and music.

“So, while it was great to have those people to perform with and bounce ideas off, the culture shock was still quite great in a lot of ways. For example, I had to get my head around having to move away from the more traditionally Western ideas of timing and melody, something I’m still struggling with even now.

“Plus, aside from having the language barrier to contend with, I don’t read sheet music,” adds the self-taught guitarist.

“And getting these professional, state-employed musicians to just sit down and jam something improvised was equally hard, and probably just as weird for them.

“But I think we ended up learning a little bit from each other.”

However, Bonello reckons the biggest difference was how people there went about leading their daily lives.

“Chengdu is a very big city, something like 15 million people – and it’s growing all the time,” says Bonello.

“It used to be on the Silk Road and is a very industrious place that was once the hub of the textile industry, and there’s still the constant noise of building work and new skyscrapers breaking through the haze of smog to appear on the horizon.

“On the other hand, everyone makes a point of taking time out in the evening to spend time with family, and if you go into any of the many green, open spaces around the place there’ll be groups of people leading little Tai Chi classes. Squint and it could almost be Roath park,” he smiles.

“Once outside Chengdu though, the scenery gets much more rural and mountainous as you get closer to Tibet. Had my grasp of the language been any better I’d probably have taken a bus out there on my own one day to look around – as it stands I’d probably have headed off never to be seen again.”

And, despite being a lover of the great outdoors, Bonello adds that being tied to the hustle and bustle of the city didn’t mean he was stymied when it came to finding inspiration for his songs.

“What I loved was the fact you could be walking through these streets which were so hectic and full-on , only to turn a corner and be face-to-face with a tomb of some dead emperor that’s remained untouched for some 3,000 years,” he says. “It’s a perpetual reminder of the valuable history that’s all around you.”

But what of the songs that resulted from the trip?

“They’re a mix of instrumental and vocal pieces which I’m still working on at the moment,” admits Bonello.

“I originally went out there with a couple of half-developed songs and had been listening to plenty of Chinese music beforehand.

“But as time went on they grew ever more Eastern in style – although a lot of the players I worked with really seemed to be taken with the slow, melancholic pace of Welsh folk.

“And I did give singing in Sichuan go, in case you were wondering,” he laughs.

“But I didn’t think it sounded right.

“So instead we got someone to translate my lyrics into Chinese for my hosts to sing and hopefully that’ll end up on the record.”

And Bonello hopes to release that as-yet-unnamed collection next spring.

“At the moment I’m trying to find a Chinese ensemble in the UK to finish off some of the tracks on the album because it’s too expensive for me to keep travelling back out there,” he says.

“I did make some great friends out there though and went back out in June to see them all again – I can’t wait to send them the finished copies of what we started together.”

Read more: Wales Online - Wales Online

"Sudan: musical traditions old and new"

Gareth Bonello from Welsh band Pen Pastwn, blogs about the band’s visit to Sudan, the musical traditions they discovered and about being on of the few western bands to perform in Sudan in the last 32 years.
I have to admit that when the British Council contacted Pen Pastwn at short notice and asked if we’d like to do some gigs in Sudan it took me a little by surprise. My knowledge of Sudan was based solely on what I had seen on the news or read in the papers. It had never crossed my mind that it might be a place I would visit. The trip would involve two concerts, the first in Port Sudan and the other in the capital Khartoum.
Two weeks later I was in Port Sudan with folk-psych-rock collective Pen Pastwn. Over the past two years we have been the in-house band for an evening of music and literature at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, as well as performing our own material. As a result, collaborating with musicians and writers has become a bit of a specialty, and we were all extremely keen to get jamming with the local musicians.
On our first full day we met Beja singer Siddi Doshka and his band. It wasn’t long before the music was flowing and we were jamming on each other’s songs. Siddi’s music was based around the pentatonic scale and to my ears it had a much stronger African influence than the Middle-Eastern one that I had been expecting. His voice, though unamplified, carried and reverberated around the room like a bell. The jam went so well that the next day we joined Siddi and his band on stage and performed several tracks together.

Sudan has had a tricky relationship with music and dance in recent times. Many musicians had to stop performing following the imposition of strict Sharia law in 1989. The feeling I got whilst out there was that there are elements within the establishment that are still deeply distrustful of musical events and concerts are sometimes cancelled at the last minute. We were told that the event we were playing was one of only a few of its kind to take place in Port Sudan during the last 32 years.
That is why the work that the Creative Coalitions Project is doing in Sudan is so good, because through the project, concerts have been going ahead and musical talent is being developed. We all felt that we were contributing in a very small way just by performing.
The highlight of the trip for me was jamming with Siddi Doshka live on stage in Port Sudan. The gig was in the open with no fences or barriers, so anyone could come and listen. It was a great feeling to look out and see a crowd of hundreds enjoying free music in the open air.
Afterwards it was clear that the audience had enjoyed the night as much as we had and we were swamped by people who wanted to greet us. We ended up spending a good hour and a half meeting everyone, taking photos and discussing music. We were all overwhelmed by the response and developed a real affinity for the people of Port Sudan.
Hopefully, more events will be staged there in the near future, and who knows? Perhaps we will be there again too. I think I speak for everyone in the band when I say that I hope so. - The British Council

"M Meets Gareth Bonello"

Welsh folk artist The Gentle Good, aka Gareth Bonello, swapped his hometown of Cardiff for the unknown terrain of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan Province to complete a career-changing six week musical residency.

The trip encouraged the singer songwriter (left, picture by Lucy Cullen) to meld traditional Welsh folk melodies with Chinese instrumentation and scales, in an ambitious project sponsored by PRS for Music Foundation and the British Council.

Between October 2011 and March 2012, four select musicians, including Gareth, Imogen Heap, Jamie Woon and Matthew Bourne, immersed themselves in a different Chinese city, meeting local people and sharing their experiences through music.

Here Gareth talks to M about his early songwriting, the evolution of his sound and his time in China. An acoustic video performance will follow tomorrow.

How long have you been writing songs, and how did you start out?
I started around 2005 or 2006, just gigging round Cardiff. I used to do traditional songs and then decided I wanted to start writing for myself. The first thing that made me think I could do this sort of thing was a session I did for Radio Cymru. I wrote a song for that; it was the first one I had written and recorded.

Tethered for the Storm, Gareth’s current album
So you’d been playing guitar before then?
Yes, I’d been playing for a while by that point. I picked it up as a teenager, about 14. I was already enjoying that but I always saw myself as a guitarist rather than a songwriter so it took me a while to start writing. I thought I’d play guitar round some pubs and then someone would pick me up and say, ‘Hey, do you want to play in my band?’

There is a strong folk tradition running through a lot of current Welsh music. Why do you think that is?
Everything is different in Wales; everything is miniaturised and magnified. You’ve got a smaller scene but there’s less pressure to conform to a particular genre so you get a lot of variety. With the folk thing, a lot of it might come from people looking for inspiration from within Wales, rather than looking towards America. A lot of folk artists did that in England and Scotland in the 60s, you had the folk revival then. It did take a little bit of a hold in Wales, but maybe not quite as much.

What drew you to start writing folk music?
I got into it by listening to English folk revival music from the 60s, guitarists like John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, people like that. Then I thought, ‘How come I’m not listening to any Welsh stuff?’ So that’s when I started to look for old songs and get into the traditional music of Wales. It’s different to the English and Scottish traditions. We’re less well known for some types of folk music. When you think of violin music and dance music you tend to think of Scotland and Ireland rather than Wales. You tend to think mainly of harps when you think of Welsh traditional music!

Gareth in Chengdu: ‘The compulsory old meets new picture’
Which traditional Welsh folk musicians do you really rate?
I’m a big fan of Mike Stevens, he’s the only one I can think of who’s an influence from the 60s era. Obviously I’m a big fan of people like Gruff Rhys and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, who aren’t traditional but have a folk in their music. I’ve particularly found older melodies and Welsh folk songs an influence, so not one specific artist but the actual songs themselves. Often these songs aren’t subscribed to any songwriter in particular because they don’t know who wrote them.

How do you construct your songs? Do you start with a guitar part or lyric?
I’ve been trying different ways of doing it to get a bit more variety. But usually my first instinct is to do it all on guitar first. A song will usually start off as a guitar instrumental and then I’ll think to myself, ‘How can I put words and a melody to this?’ What I’ve been trying to do recently is pay more attention to the words because what tends to happen is, if you write the guitar part first you’re fitting everything in around that.

Where do you normally find your inspiration for lyrics?
I’m very into the natural world and I’m very conscious of the changing seasons so I tend to write about that. I always find that reading poetry is a great way to find ideas and get thoughts floating round your head. If I’m ever stuck for ideas I’ll tend to read some poems in both English and Welsh, and I find that helps. That’s what I decided to do in China; I read some Chinese poets beforehand and while I was there to try to get a feel for the ways they express things.

Chicken feet in Chengdu
Did the China trip change the way you approach songwriting?
Definitely. It made me more confident for sure. I’ve always had a job as well as doing music so I’ve always had to juggle things. In China, it was the first time I had six weeks to just concentrate on writing music. I’ve always wondered how that would go and I found it gave me a lot more confidence because I was a lot quicker at writing and came up with lots of ideas for songs. It didn’t necessarily change the way I wrote but I was starting to develop and hone skills that I didn’t have the chance to properly explore before.

How did the project evolve?
I decided to write an album based on the life of a Chinese poet and I started using his poems as inspiration for the songs. I was using them to tell the story of his life. I translated his poems into Welsh by taking the general themes and writing words around that. It was a roundabout way of writing songs but it really made me think about the poetry I was reading and the poetry I was trying to write. It definitely sharpened me up a bit.

Sun Xian Chu playing the hulusi
Musically, will we hear any Chinese instruments or scales creeping in?
There are definitely Chinese scales and instruments in there. That’s definitely one thing I wanted to do – I wanted to play face to face with musicians from a different country and different musical education. I did manage to do a little bit of that and we recorded two songs with Chinese violin and various woodwind instruments. Because I wanted to do a whole album inspired by my trip, I’d like more of the songs to have a Chinese feel. So I’m still trying to figure out how to do that. I’ve got some ideas; I’d like some of the album to use the Chinese scales.

Did you come across any barriers or difficulties when you were there?
The main difficulty I had was that I wanted to play with the local musicians in a very informal way. I wanted to rehearse with them and get ideas. From there I hoped they would learn the parts that they wanted in an improvised style. But it became clear that they were much more comfortable with sheet music. At the time I didn’t feel very comfortable with that, as I didn’t want to write sheet music for instruments I’d only just discovered! But maybe I can work with a composer friend of mine over here and draw something rough up for them when I go back.

What’s the main thing you have taken away from your trip to China?
The main thing is the confidence that I can go away and do this sort of thing, that I can write songs with people from a different culture, with different musical tastes and styles. That thing will help with further songwriting and maybe branching out from playing in Wales, and the UK, and writing in a Western style. Since the China trip I’ve become a lot more interested in different musical styles from all over the world and I’d like to explore that more.

When will the China album be ready?
I’m hoping to finish it by the autumn. I wrote most of it while I was out there so I just need to do some recording and polish off some parts then decide what else needs to be done. I’m keen to try to follow it up as soon as I can, but I’m not the fastest of workers! - M Magazine

"The Gentle Good - In Session"

The Gentle Good is a finger-picking, pysch-tinged guitarist and songwriter who has journeyed as far afield as Sudan and China to work with local musicians and discover new instruments and scales.

A few months ago, he spent some time in the city of Chengdu, China, as part of a musical residency programme organised by the British Council and PRS for Music Foundation. He worked with the city’s Theatre of Performing Art, meeting musicians and crafting songs based on the life of local poet Li Bai. An album based on his experiences in China is expected soon.

Also this year, The Gentle Good, aka Gareth Bonello, travelled to Sudan with the band Pen Pastwn. Himself, Richard James of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and three other Welsh musicians visited Port Sudan and Khartoum for a series of gigs and workshops with revered Sudanese musician Siddi Doshka.

To find out more about Gareth and his songwriting, read yesterday’s M interview. He talks to us about his influences, the obscure history of Welsh folk music and his experiences in China.

Below he performs an acoustic version of a new song, The Seabird’s Journey, which was inspired by Li Bai.
- M Magazine

"Album - The Gentle Good - Tethered for the Storm"

Cardiff’s Gareth Bonello draws on a variety of influences and two languages on this follow-up to his 2008 debut album While You Slept I Went Out Walking. An equally redolent title this time around points to tranquility, just what is provided as both parts of Bonello’s pseudonym prove accurate.

The moving ‘Pamela’ evokes its ethereal title character’s anguish through haunting strings and maudlin lyrics about the fading of memories, while ‘Holly Blue’ sees Bonello captivated by the eponymous butterfly and devoting a summer to the search for her.

As a man generally drawn into songs by their lyrics, the beauty of those in languages unknown to me lies in the necessity to connect in a different way. Such is the case with the Welsh-language tracks herein, with the acappella ‘Deuawd’ – a duet with 9bach’s Lisa Jen, a sometime Gruff Rhys collaborator – demonstrating the Celtic tongue’s musicality and ease on the ear. ‘Closer Cysgod y Dur’ draws on Cardiff’s industrial history, opening with the clangs and grinds of the steelworks and shaping up as a polar opposite to ‘Holly Blue’, but drifts along just as pleasantly and ‘Llosgi Pontydd’ plinks by on a jaunty finger-picked melody.

My one criticism would be the lack of much change of pace, with even the whooshes of wind on the instrumental title track failing to truly conjure up said “storm” – but for a low-key, soothing listen, there is little not to like. - For Folk's Sake

"Unassuming Cardiff songwriter adds baroque strings to his folk thing - 4 Stars ****"

4 Stars **** As a zoologist Gareth Bonello's duties included sitting in the forest before sunrise and noting the song patterns of robins. It isn't too hard to detect something of those days on his second LP. The hymnal Llosgi Pontydd is typical of an album that wears its folk guitar stripes proudly. The instrumental title track could pass for a young John Renbourn though elsewhere more recent influences abound. Old Window Song calls to mind Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, while sometime Gruff Rhys sidekick Lisa Jen teases out th egoosebumps on a cappella double-hander Deuawd. It might seem fanciful to say that in arranger Seb Goldfinch Bonello has founf the Robert Kirby to his Nick Drake - but time spent with the breathtaking dawn rapture of opening song Aubade makes it difficult to draw any other conclusion. Pete Paphides - Mojo April 2011

"The Gentle Good - Tethered for the Storm" - Mojo April 2011

"The Gentle Good - Tethered for the Storm" - Uncut

"A Welsh Folk Album that explores tragic folk songs and masterful musicianship" - Maverick Country March 2011

"Mojo Review - The Gentle Good - While You Slept I Went Out Walking"

Bob Harris-endorsed folky shows promise

Cardiffian Gareth Bonello has been performing as The Gentle Good since 2003. His 2007 EP, Dawel Disgyn (Gentle Falls), and live performances at such as the Green Man and Latitude festivals have begun to establish his reputation, and this first album may see the breakthrough. Bonello's finger-pickin' ragtime guitar work is married with deep sonorous strings on the most obviously commercial track, Waiting For Jane, but it's the album's opener, A Man Made of Moss, which looks like being his signature song. "I like woodland," he says on his MySpace page, and a world of Celtic mysticism and solitude invades the airy music. Of the 10 tracks here half are sung in Welsh. The contours of his lonely voice on such as Baled y Confict bring to mind Nick Drake and Martin Carthy, yet it remains resolutely his own.

David Buckley - Mojo

"Maverick Review - The Gentle Good - While You Slept I Went Out Walking"

Psychedelic folk from the valleys

While the words 'Welsh' and 'folk music' may not immediately make you sit up and listen, this debut album is much more than what you might expect to be the sum of those parts. The Gentle Good are actually a band formed around the talents of Gareth Bonello from Cardiff, who sings and plays acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano and cello and is accompanied by suitably wafting violin and harp. With his breathy vocals and lively picking the result at times brings back Donavan, at others of a youthful John Martyn, and sometimes both, mixed up in a hazy 1960's sub-Pentangle, psychedelic folk style. Bonello's delicate, breathy vocals drift seamlessly between English and Welsh barely without you noticing, and are backed with equally delicate guitar picking. Songs like Waiting for Jane and Let your Light be your Guide use the violin and cello to create a subtle string quartet backdrop, a feel which owes not a little to the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. The result is very much a band album in the subtlest of ways and creates a thoroughly beautiful, brooding sound, the sort of thing you might have expected to hear John Peel playing many years back.

ND - Maverick

"The Guardian Review - The Gentle Good - While You Slept I Went Out Walking"

"His songs are easygoing and classy"
Robin Denselow - The Guardian


Find your Way Back Home - EP -2006 - Self released
Amser - Single - 2006 - self released
Dawel Disgyn - EP - 2007 - Gwymon CD002
While you Slept I went out Walking - LP - Gwymon CD004
Tethered for the Storm - LP - Gwymon CD013
Y Bardd Anfarwol - LP - Bubblewrap Records - Release August 2013



The Gentle Good is the stage-name of Cardiff-born Gareth Bonello. Gareth has emerged as one of the most prominent songwriters writing in the Welsh language and draws from deep Welsh traditions to create beautiful new music.

The recent release Tethered for the Storm was nominated for the Welsh Music Prize and saw Gareth win the BBC Radio Cymrus Composer of the year 2011. Later that year Gareth was chosen by the British Council and PRSF to take up a musical residency in China. His upcoming release Y Bardd Anfarwol explores Chinese music and is out August 2013.

Band Members