Gruff Rhys – American Interior
Fresh from writing shiny electro-pop chronicling the life of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli as one half of Neon Neon, Gruff Rhys reverts to his own name to tell the story of an even more unlikely subject. American Interior, his fourth solo LP, is an enjoyable take on the fabled 18th century explorer John Evans, who left his native Gwynedd in a vain attempt to find a mythical tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans, drawing one of the first maps of the Missouri River along the way.
Rhys retraced Evans' tour of the American heartlands before entering the studio, and the musical influences are clear in the alt-country stomp of 100 Unread Messages, and the Muscle Shoals soul-tinged Liberty (Is Where We'll Be). It's all a long way removed from the pscyh-rock of the Super Furry Animals or the sleek Neon Neon, but this is a charming and at times fascinating album – as much a celebration of Americana as a legendary Welsh folk hero. [Chris McCall]