Meic Stevens – Rain in the Leaves: The EPs, vol. 1 CD (Sunbeam)

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The Welsh never neglected their homegrown Dylan, but the English-speaking pop world only recently discovered this powerful artist via Rhino Handmade’s reissue of “Outlander” (1970/2003). The 19 tracks on this comp span 1965-70, commencing with an early English-language 45 in a gentle, slightly primitive troubadour vein, then delving deep into Stevens’ more personal and intense recordings in his native tongue. I have only the vaguest notion what he’s singing about on tracks like “Yr Eryr a’r Golomen” and “Glaw yn y Dail,” but anyone conversant with the electric folk idiom will be in comfortable territory as these intensely emotional, sometimes psychedelic tunes unfold. The Welsh language has a nostalgic, eerie quality that makes Stevens’ unique work appealing despite the language barrier. Stay with it till the last few tracks, the seldom-heard and hard rocking Welsh recordings from the “Outlander” sessions. This set includes notes on each of the EPs, vintage sleeve art and a handwritten note from the artist.