It's not often you see an artist choosing a focal instrument that's not a piano or a guitar. Even in folk, where instrumentation is more varied, the six-stringer reigns supreme, though you'll occasionally stumble upon a mandolin or a banjo. The harp is a lesser-utilised string instrument. Florence + The Machine popularised it briefly with the likes of 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)' and 'Dog Days Are Over', but that approach was largely canned for her chart dominating second record, leaving the wondrous harp orchestrations by the wayside. Even for that minuscule moment, the harp was in the spotlight, and it was a refreshing sound – Florence's determined use of the instrument set her apart, and was the gimmick that kickstarted her meteoric rise. It is a rare choice, even in the wake of Florence's endorsement, but Georgia Ruth, the Welsh folk chantreuse, has always elected to use the gargantuan device. Her arguably backwards reason was because it seemed simpler than other instruments. "I couldn't get my head around the guitar! I remember thinking that I'd just learn to fingerpick on the harp so that it sounded more like a guitar. I find it easier to write if I'm sitting with the harp. Mind you, I've written a few on the piano and those ones has always sounded different."

Come 20th May, we'll have her much-anticipated debut record that she's been working on for the best part of a year, Week Of Pines. She explains her writing process for us: "The songs were written mostly in a cluster, over a period of a few months, which is quite rare for me. Usually it takes a lot longer. Then the band and I got together, to work on the arrangement, and things began to take shape; I realised that the album was going to sound quite different to how I'd envisaged." After the lengthy task of writing the material came the process of putting it to wax. It was recorded in a studio next to Snowdonia – the stunning landscapes have surely influenced Ruth's oft pastoral efforts. "We played Green Man in August, and then headed straight up in the van to Bryn Derwen studios in Snowdonia. We were there for a week with David Wrench - many of the songs were mostly recorded live - and when we left, we had an album!" To celebrate, she's planning a launch party and mini-tour: "I'm currently booking a small tour to coincide with the album release. Hoping to launch in Cardiff in early June."

Hailing from Wales, Ruth was raised bilingual, speaking both English and Welsh at home. Today, she's brought that ability into her music, using both languages to aid lyrics, and being able to more readily appreciate Welsh-language musicians. "There are some things that I can only describe in Welsh, and for those things, I'll write in the language; others will only do in English. I grew up completely bilingually, my everyday life is bilingual, and my writing too." Welsh is a native language that is slowly dying, due to the invasion and predominance of English – it's become a niche thing in its native country. Ruth is able to draw from both 'sides' of her life, cherrypicking the best parts from each tongue. "My parents didn't speak Welsh, but we moved to Aberystwyth - a seaside town on the West coast - when I was four. I went to Welsh language primary school, and at that age you just absorb things: I was fluent by the end of the year. It's hard to explain, but being able to speak Welsh enriched the way I did everything. It was exciting. Because you suddenly have this other linguistic perspective on everything. You can think in two different systems, but both of them are you! I feel very lucky to have been able to learn the language. I can't imagine how different my life might have been had I not learnt."

She's been rapidly gaining respect as a talented and enthralling performer – acclaimed sets at Glastonbury and Green Man, as well as residencies in India and Canada are testament to her nigh-flawless playing style. The fact she was able to record much of her album live just adds weight to the claim. Ruth has recently added a band to live performances, allowing a richer sound with more opportunities for variation to flourish. "Things have changed since they joined me. It used to be quite a lonely experience. With just me and the harp, it was always a lot more intense. These days, I have company on stage, and it means that we can do so much more, sound-wise, and I'm so pleased." But what about those early days? How were her earlier gigs? They were certainly more difficult without roadies. "God, I'm trying to remember my first gig. If we're talking technically, then the first 'gig' would probably have been some sort of folk song rendition at my school Eisteddfod. So, you know, terrifying! But proper gig? I was pretty late to it. I was nineteen, and the gig was in my university bar at Cambridge. I had to drag the harp across the gardens, but everyone was lovely."

Her first concert as a spectator may not be entirely what you'd expect. "It may actually have been Joan Baez. I'm trying desperately to remember. She came to sing in Llandudno when I was little, and mum took me to see her. Band-wise, I'm going to get some stick for this... but it was Red Hot Chili Peppers at V Festival. My friend and I made a pilgrimage, we were 14! Anthony Kiedis' abs were a sinister and irresistible force in those days."

Her humble beginnings had parental driving forces. "Our house was always filled with music. My mother used to play me Joan Baez and Melanie Safka records when I was very young... and this amazing Persian singer called Shusha... and Dylan's Street Legal - I remember hearing that one! My father was obsessed with Welsh and Scottish folk music. Lots of Americana, too." It would eventually be those Welsh and Scottish folk influences that really took hold, leading her to create the stunning bouts of bucolic folk, drenched in quaint emotion and glistening pop hooks. Though heartily inspired by a range of sounds, she was a relatively late bloomer in terms of composing. "I started learning the harp when I was about 7, and I always sang and played piano. I was obsessed with music. But it never quite occurred to me that I could write my own music until I was in my late teens. I remember hearing Aimee Mann for the first time, and thinking: she's making a living from writing songs, maybe I could give it a go!"

That thirst for music has never ceased for Ruth, and she's still absorbing all manner of contemporary music. "Bill Callahan is my hero at the moment. He can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned! I love Angel Olsen's voice. The War on Drugs, St Vincent, and A. A. Bondy (I cover one of his songs on the album). Cat Power too. There are some really exciting welsh-language bands in Wales at the moment: Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Sen Segur, Trwbador." Although primarily steeped in audio roots, her music is also given a poetic hue. "I studied English literature at university, so I'm sure that some of the poetry and books I read seep through into the music eventually. I love R.S. Thomas' poetry, Frank O'Hara too. There's that sense of melancholy that they have, but it's always balanced with a sense of humour, the self-deprecation that stops the work from being maudlin and self-indulgent."

Georgia Ruth has wowed crowds worldwide with her deft, skilful power over the harp. She's crafting intelligent folk-pop songs with jazz and indie influences, and Week Of Pines is set to be a spine-tingling selection of angelic cuts that are both ethereal and thickly layered with emotion. With a repertoire as golden as hers and a unique selling point to set her apart from the mountains of one-man-and-his-guitar folk, she's going to have no problem leading an invasion of the zeitgeist. The year ahead may be riddled with rain for many, but the skies ahead are crystal clear for Georgia Ruth.


Week of Pines is released on May 20th via Gwymon Records. For more details, head to georgiaruthmusic.co.uk.