Wales

I'm a moody sod. And a melodramatic fool. Have I stolen that from a rubbish song? No matter. Anyway, January always starts the year off like a box of fireworks that has been used as a urinal by a bunch of elephants out on a stag-night. There's a tax return to file, the realisation that another year is starting and I'm still nowhere near a grown up. The ceaselessly grey skies muffle joy. The shivering birds make me feel bad about having the central heating on. My new year resolutions (stop smoking, stop drinking, stop smiling, stop breathing, stop eating food that tastes good) make me miserable.

And - no doubt - this 'woe is me' opening paragraph-and-a-bit has dragged you down to my level too. Either that or you're berating your computer screen:

"Pull yourself together. Man up. Think about how lucky you are."

All imprecations that'll lock my heart deeper and deeper into the dank dungeon of despair I have decided to dump it in.

All the Ds.

I am being marginally ironic, here.

Marginally.

Because the more lonely and desperate we both feel, the more the ray of sunshine that's imminent below will warm you, bring feelings of empathy and joy into the darkest, most squalid corner of your January soul.

Like a S.A.D. bulb bursting into life in a windowless bunker in Stavangar on 21 December.

Because Sparrowhawks - young flannelly folk from Deeside and Llangollen - elicit sunshine on your eyelids like no band I have heard come out of "my" part of the world hitherto. That they do it with such effortless, unshowy sophistication is scattering smiles across my inflatable face like you would not believe.

They elicit comparisons to a few dozen incredible bands - Pentangle, The Free Design, Burt Bacharach, Stereolab, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, Shack, DJ Shadow: just (old git) reference points. This is fresher than that little stream that tumbles down the Cilcain side of Moel Famau on a July afternoon.

When it hasn't got a dead sheep in it.

I'm not going to write any more about how delicious and heart-trippingly wonderful this is because you can go, right now, and download their debut EP for no pounds, no pee, here.

And if anyone calls them 'new folk', or an equally reductive and asinine sobriquet, I will personally come round their house and whinge about my hangdog January heart until, well, next January.

Don't think I'm joking.

Do I look like Michael McIntyre?

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