FIRST PERSON: Singer-songwriter Al Lewis on singing and second homes

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Tuesday 10th May 2022 7:30 am
@JulieCambrian
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Photo: Kirsten Mcternan

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A Singer-songwriter from Pen Llŷn has written a song about something that will resonate with many - second homes.

The Farmhouse is the new single by the award-winning Al Lewis. Released in April, Al, who is well-known throughout Ceredigion and his home county of Gwynedd, wrote it in response to the second homes crisis.

Listeners are asked to imagine living in a community where 39.8 per cent of all homes are second homes, as is the situation currently in Llanengan on the Llŷn where Al spent his childhood.

Growing up as a native Welsh speaker – this silent but escalating transformation of the place Al called home is laid bare as the lyrics focus on how local people in so many of Wales’ rural communities, as well as in many other parts of the UK, are being priced out by wealthier individuals looking to purchase second homes.

This is also affecting the cultural make-up of communities as we witness long-standing Welsh names being replaced with generic English names that hold no significance to the area they find themselves in.

“During the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to witness the painful transformation occurring in the area in which I was brought up, local people wanting to raise their families in their local communities are now being forced out due to sky-high valuations exasperated by the pandemic,” Al said.

“This is also eroding the Welsh language at the same time by diluting the very areas in which the language was the primary language of daily life.”

The song will resonate with many people, no doubt, especially if they hear it live, as they will be able to this month.

As well as promoting the new single, Al is back on the road, touring his critically acclaimed Welsh language concept album Te yn y Grug/Tea in the Heather, which came out in 2020. Based on the book of the same name by Dr Kate Roberts, it is adapted from the musical Al was commissioned to write music for as part of the 2019 National Eisteddfod.

Just before the pandemic, Al started a tour where he was joined on stage by his band and specially invited local choirs to perform the album in its entirety.

Like so many shows, it had to be postponed because of Covid-19 but Al has thankfully been able to resurrect it, and he brought it to Cardigan’s Theatr Mwldan last Friday (6 May) and Aberystwyth Arts Centre the following night. It comes to Galeri Caernarfon this Friday (13 May at 7.30pm) with Côr Dre and soloist Mared Williams. The show is suitable for all ages.

To feature in First Person, email [email protected] or call 01970 615000.

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