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Easy On The Records EOTR03

In addition to high profile Celtic festival appearances, presence on BBC Alba’s Horo Gheallaidh is testament to me that “rising Welsh instrumental band Mabon” (LT87) have since risen to a recognised place in the Celtic firmament. Re-christened, as above, they remain a vehicle for the deft performance of piano-accordionist maestro Jamie Smith’s compositions and arrangements.

From the main supporting instrumentation (fiddle, bouzouki, bass, drums/percussion), Oliver Wilson-Dickson provides some outstanding fiddle work and Matt Downer further pleasing detail and effects from his basses across the recording. Guests provide additional fiddle, banjo, wooden flute (Calum Stewart), acoustic/lap steel guitars (Dylan Fowler) and bodhrán. All are woven into Jamie’s complex layered pieces that continue both to showcase his prowess in creating moods and tones from his chosen instrument, and to afford wide opportunities for the other musicians to excel in navigating the clever twists, variety of rhythms and tempi used to present and propel his ‘interCeltic’ (and beyond) tune sets.

So, what’s new? Songs. Essentially, through JS, who wrote three and sings all four songs, JSM ‘finds its voice…’ The atmospheric Caru Pum Merch, sung in Welsh and penned by drummer Iolo Whelan, is undoubtedly the most successful. This apart, the lyrics are rather variable in quality and their delivery, including their fit or weave with the music, not quite consistently convincing. So, in summing up, the varietal value of having some songs is slightly offset by their relative success compared with the accustomed brilliance and sophistication of the instrumental passages and pieces.

Kevin T. Ward


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This album was reviewed in Issue 94 of The Living Tradition magazine.