Review: Hook, Line and Singer by Cerys Matthews

Hook Line and SingerThe Blurb

From Cerys Matthews, radio 6 DJ, ex-singer of Brit Pop band Catatonia and one of Britain’s best known music devotees, comes Hook, Line and Singer, a sing-a-long book for all the family, for any occasion

After more than thirty years of singing, travelling and collecting songs, Cerys Matthews still finds there’s no better way to spend time than singing along in good company.

In Hook, Line and Singer she invites you to join her in a grand old singalong. From songs for young families through tunes for vintage-lovers, trips away, American favourites and songs for times of optimism, ending with celebration songs for Christmas and New Year, this is a book filled with Cerys’s own memories and musical arrangements. A mix of the traditional and contemporary, Hook, Line and Singer presents music and lyrics clearly so the book can be sung as well as read, offering you the stories behind the songs, their ages and origins, and the reason for their inclusion.

This is a life-affirming book of the most memorable, melancholy, silliest and easiest-to-sing songs that Cerys knows, designed to keep handy at home for those moments when only a song will do.

The Review

The raspy Welsh voice of Cerys Matthews is synonymous with such hits as Road Rage and The Ballad of Tom Jones, however, of late the singer has been more known for her music show on Radio 6 or her bit part reporting for The One Show. What some people might not know is that Matthews has also turned her hand to writing. This has come in the form of her sing-a-long book Hook, Line and Singer (Penguin, 2013).

Now this treasure was found in the music section of my lovely library but it could equally have been placed in the history section and also the biography section. This is because the book examines traditional folk songs and to some extent popular songs throughout history. So far, so normal, however, the biographical element comes with the rich warmth that Matthews discusses the songs. You can’t help but hear her lilting Welsh tone tell you the stories of how the songs came about or about why they are so important to her. It is a ridiculously endearing read.

The book is set out for musicians to be able to play the songs (all in the key of C to help out budding musicians) and is ornately decorated with illustrations. It is just one of those books that feel good to read.

The one slight bug bear comes with the description of how to perform the actions of thee songs. However, it is understandable as to why they are there. After the first chapter though (which to be fair is a section on nursery rhymes) the call for actions are few and far between. Please don’t let that deter you from reading the rest of the book because the wealth of knowledge n these pages is phenomenal and you can tell that each song has been included because Matthews has such a love for it and indeed for its story. This is a charming book and deserves to be read.

Hook, Line and Singer by Cerys Matthews is available now.

3 Stars


  1. 17th March 2016 / 12:08 pm

    I love the pun. Lol. I know it’s not that intelligent but it is so fun. Don’t know if I would pick this up because the musical notes and illustrations would be wasted on me. but this sounds like a great book!

    • 17th March 2016 / 2:17 pm

      It is certainly a quirky read. I read it in one go but it is really more of a dip in dip out book x x

    • 17th March 2016 / 2:18 pm

      Also, I love a good pun too 🙂 x x

  2. 18th March 2016 / 5:43 pm

    Music is among my greatest passions. The Stories behind music adds dimension. Hook, Line and Singer is the newest addition to my BTR list. Good review, Lisa. <3

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