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Venation Records CALC006

Hearing the first track, I almost felt my own ears were underwater (Tanddwr’s literal translation): it opens not with Carwyn’s harp but with swirling keyboard, but fortunately harpmanship is more to the forefront thereafter on this selection comprising tunes and a handful of songs, fusing the old and the new.

Carwyn’s expertise on the Welsh triple and Celtic harps is a known quantity, and his lyrical playing is both fluid and delightful. The tunes are a mixture of traditional and original melodies; some are attractive sketches of particular landscapes (not necessarily Welsh ones), many having a watery connection. The closing track (The Hills Of Pennsylvania/Elen) sports something of a transatlantic flavour.

The disc also includes a few vocal items. Two are performed to Carwyn’s own guitar accompaniment: Pethau Bychain features backing from flautist Imogen O’Rourke (of Yr Hwntws), while Fy Machgen Bach (My Little Boy) is a recent composition concerning the ongoing tragedy of refugees drowning in European waters. The Burry Port Crew is a lively a cappella piece with refrains, and Carmarthen Bay Lullaby is a charming addition.

This is a well-intentioned disc that makes good capital of Carwyn’s talent. However, I still harbour reservations regarding that keyboard, which is played by Geraint Cynan (from Ar Log). Although Carwyn engaged him at least partly due to their shared love of the music of Bruce Hornsby (The Range and latter-day Grateful Dead), I didn’t really warm to his sweet, rather pervasive style – but then again, you may disagree.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.