The fourth solo album by former Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys is inspired by the 18th-century explorer John Evans, who mapped the Missouri river in a vain search for a lost, Welsh-speaking American tribe. As well as this Evans-themed concept album, Rhys has made a film documenting his 2012 tour (gigs featured a PowerPoint presentation on the theme of Evans); a book – sorry, a "psychedelic historical travelogue"; and for those who crave further "immersion", an app. But all Rhys's extra-curricular multimedia has not distracted him from making an album full of wit, originality and indelible tunes, from the rumbling rockabilly of 100 Unread Messages, the Bette Davis Eyes-referencing Lost Tribes and the mournfully mesmerising title track. American Interior explores myth and adventure, the meaning of failure, nationhood and Rhys's own identity (he believes Evans was a distant ancestor). But its songs are not weighed down by the Evans concept, and are hugely enjoyable on their own merits.
Gruff Rhys: American Interior review – wit, originality and indelible tunes
Jon Dennis is Guardian's multimedia production editor and also writes about music.