This album announces itself with a thumping bass drum intro which asserts, 'I mean business!' And I think The Business is what we get.
Cerys Mathews is one of those singers who is instantly recognisable and the lilt of her voice is both sexy and comforting - it reassures you that quality music is in store. Rather like Kate Bush, she's been around and proved her credentials - she's not one of the clutch of female singers who are constantly springing up that have a pretty voice but really don't know how to use it effectively. They hit the charts with one or two stunning songs then just don't have the nous to sustain the momentum.
Cerys grooves and has a wide repertoire of vocal stylings to call on. I note she now lives in Nashville - I envy her - but that environment has probably broadened her horizons - there's one track here, 'Oxygen', that reminded me of Dylan in John Wesley Harding mode, but heavily rocked up and highly effectively at that.
I guess my only complaint is that one or two of the songs are a bit lightweight and singalong, such as track 4 'Open Roads' which is to be the first single from the album and whose hook line provides the album title. But I appreciate that some people want just this quality - it makes for great atmosphere in the concert hall where we can all feel part of a wonderful night out because the words are so easy to remember or intuit as one goes along.
' The Endless Rain' is a perfect example of the Cerys magic. It's such a simple song with a poetic feel. The backing is spare, but the effect is powerful. You really think you've heard a great performance when it's over. In fact, the overall impression one's left with from the whole album is that Cerys is someone who knows how to harness power to its best advantage, to her advantage and the advantage of the listener.
Showing my age, I think my favourite is 'Morning Sunshine' because of its Harpers Bizarre/Honeybus/Fifth Dimension hippy groove - it's so well executed that anything goes as I'm transported right back and is flying like a bird down 59th Street with Maggie in her Nimble Balloon down 59th Street! Happily the disc rounds off with an atmspheric anthemic ballad 'Elen' which sounds like an escapee from Lord of the Rings. This is so full of pathos I'm sure it'll have many of you holding back a tear when cuddling up with a loved one at a late evening listening snuggled on the sofa.
To sum up - what a great release. It deserves to make it really big. Over to you!