Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Fflach:Tradd CD323H

This seriously enchanting new release from two of Wales’ finest traditional musicians presents a sequence of songs and tunes from deep within the Welsh tradition, alongside some new compositions (four by Cass, two by Nial). Somewhat like the recordings of Fernhill (with whom Cass has worked), Deuawd (“Duet”) may for some listeners appear a bit of a slow-burner due to its innate special qualities of quiet intensity and comparative understatement, but this kind of music doesn’t need to shout. And moreover, there’s no lack of skill, passion or commitment in the performances of Cass and Nial, which are both gently mesmerising and uniquely atmospheric, rather like eavesdropping on a shared fireside conversation between two close friends.

Cass is one of the Welsh folk scene’s most gifted instrumentalists, not just as a fiddler and viola player but also as a leading exponent of the crwth (Wales’ six-stringed bowed medieval lyre, which has a distinctively earthy timbre that’s addictive and not easily forgotten). Moreover, Cass is blessed with a warm and naturally expressive singing voice, which features on just four of the album’s tracks; these encompass a charming cow-calling lullaby, the magical Spring Child, the doom-laden Lift Your Heart and the cheeky Grey Blue Cuckoo’s Song (simply sung in penillion style). Nial’s delicate and often deeply contemplative guitar accompaniments count for so much more than that term implies, for they audibly sympathise with the protagonist of the piece, whether this be singer or player, and at the same time drive the music along with an almost unobtrusive momentum.

The disc’s various dance tunes are a real joy too, from the rippling Beddgelert to the lustier (if stately) pair of hornpipes that follow the achingly beautiful (if mournful) air The Gentle Maid. This disc is definitely one with a key role to play in the conversion of this country’s folk fraternity to the cause of Welsh folk music, so often regarded as the “poor relation” in this land filled with more-widely-feted Scottish, Irish and English traditional musics. It has already been on repeat play for most of the evening, such are its constant delights; and I envisage many more hours spent in its company.

David Kidman

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.