Track: Little Arrow – ‘Poetically Diseased’ (Live at Four Bars, Cardiff, 2014): potent live take heralds the tenth anniversary rerelease of ‘Music, Masks & Poems’

HAILING from far out west in deepest Pembrokeshire, Little Arrow began making waves on the Welsh scene a decade back with a fully musically and emotionally realised debut album, Music, Masks & Poems.

Tragically, Little Arrow’s frontman William Hughes died of cancer in December 2018, cutting short the career of a band with real depth and heft.

So, in marking ten years since that debut, Cardiff’s Bubblewrap Collective is reissuing the album – and issuing it for the first time on vinyl.

This rerelease covers other aspects of Will’s artistic life, too, with a Words & Art booklet showcasing his sculptures and lyrics also included; the vinyl is deliciously heavyweight and blue marbled. The accompanying digital reissue will also include bonus live recordings spanning Little Arrow’s career alongside interpretations of album tracks by some of Will’s closest friends.

And the first of these bonus tracks to be released is a live performance of the gorgeous “Poetically Diseased”, recorded at Four Bars, Cardiff, in 2014. The track stands as a juxtaposition between the folk roots of the album version and the final live lineup of Little Arrow; Will sings strong and candidly, vocally seeming to draw on that proud Welsh choral tradition – and Anohni/Antony & The Johnsons. It’s deep and it’s absolutely guaranteed to move you.

Drummer Rich Chitty elaborates in his accompanying liner notes: “From the tranquil opening of ‘Bitten Blues’ to the vivid imagery in ‘Aeroplane’; the lyrics felt old-worldly but familiar. Full of hope, but tragic. Wetting its toes amongst the mayhem, as Will puts it in ‘Poetically Diseased’.

“It was intimate, strange and personal yet somehow relatable, as though it talked of your pain and your joy, all through metaphors nearly lost to time. ‘Easy Now’ and ‘Beneath the True Blue’ were haunting and heartbreaking. ‘People of the Volcano’, ‘Boat’ and ‘Poetically Diseased’ were optimistic but borne of that same curious cloth. To this day, it remains my favourite part of Will’s back catalogue.”

Little Arrow’s Music, Masks & Poems will be released digitally and on heavyweight blue marbled vinyl, with the option of a t-shirt bundle, by Bubblewrap Collective on May 21st; you can order your copy direct from the label, here. All proceeds from the album will be donated to Paul Sartori – Hospice at Home.

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