Christopher Rees biography

Christopher Rees

Last updated: 20 January 2009

A serious singer-songwriter currently in thrall to the American murder ballad tradition.

Originally from Llanelli, after leaving Cardiff University Rees embarked on a voyage of discovery, travelling first to New York, and from then to Chicago, Vermont, Montana, Seattle and San Francisco. He started playing in coffee houses to hone his songs, an experience he credits with giving him confidence as a performer.

"In a lot of ways it was easier, because there were no expectations to be dealt with," he told Drowned In Sound. "Travelling America changed me an awful lot. It made me take stock of who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. And in many ways it opened my mind up to the bigger picture outside of Wales."

I sat in the front row and was completely blown away by the power of one man and one instrument.

Christopher Rees

Nevertheless, he returned to Wales, continuing to play as a solo artist for a few years, before realising his increasingly ambitious songs needed bigger arrangements. He recruited members to play cello, violin, double bass and piano, until he had a seven-piece band to perfect his vision.

Cardiff label FF Vinyl released the Kiss Me Kill Me EP in December 2001. A spate of performances in and around Wales led to a nomination in the same year's Welsh Music Awards in the best male solo artist category; an award he finally won in 2004, after again being nominated in 2002. He also enjoyed a rare opportunity to support John Cale during a 2001 UK tour.

With band member Dave Stapleton, in 2004 he set up Red Eye Music, a record label and film music production company. Red Eye released Rees' 2004 debut album, The Sweetest Ache. A mix of emotions, theatrics and musical somersaults, the album confirmed Rees as being one of the most ambitious new artists in Wales.

Before the album had been released, Reed had already recorded its follow-up. The aptly-named Alone On A Mountain Top, released in June 2005, was The Sweetest Ache's polar opposite: influenced by blues and country, it was laid down in six days in a remote mountain cottage just outside Aberystwyth, with Rees playing all instruments.

A third album, Cautionary Tales, was released in summer 2007, and featured guest vocals from Victoria Williams, Charline Rose and The Hot Puppies' Becky Newman.

2009 saw the release of his fourth long player, Devil's Bridge, a collection of 'murder ballads'.

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