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CYNEFIN - Dilyn Afon (Following A River) 

CYNEFIN - Dilyn Afon (Following A River) 
Astar Artes Recordings AARCDA041 

Cynefin is an old Welsh word with no literal translation that used to describe the tracks made by sheep on the hillside but has come to mean a sense of place or belonging. This collection of songs is the fruit of three years’ work by Owen Shiers to follow the musical tracks and trails of the Clettwr Valley where he grew up. He has drawn heavily on the work of author and poet T Llew Jones who, in the 1970s, collected songs from, among others, local blacksmith Daff Jones, last of a line of balladeers stretching back generations. Owen wanted more than to preserve these old songs. He wanted to re-imagine and re-work the songs to make them more accessible to a modern audience; to help that audience to reconnect with their own cynefin, perhaps.

To do this he has gathered around him an astonishing and diverse array of talented instrumentalists using a range of, perhaps, unexpected instruments and has produced an epic work. The CD was recorded at Stiwdio Felin Fach and is another example of the fine work coming out of Dylan Fowler’s studio in Wales. It matters not if you don’t understand the Welsh language. The soundscapes created here will take you to another time and place long gone. Visit the website and listen to Y Fwyalchen Ddu Bigfelen (The Yellow-Beaked Blackbird) and see if you agree. Owen Shiers’ work on this CD deserves much more than a short review here. Keep your eye out for a more in-depth interview with Owen next year.

Philip Thomas


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine