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JAMIE SMITH’S MABON - Twenty: Live! 

JAMIE SMITH’S MABON - Twenty: Live! 
Easy On The Records EOTRCD06 

Twenty years after their beginnings, this remarkable band from Wales has decided to release a live album of some of their crowd favourites as well as two new sets. If you don’t know this band, they are masterful at creating new wineskins for the accordion. The tunes are led and lifted by the accordion and fiddle, but the rhythm (with guitars, bass and drums) gives it the drive. They’ve certainly found a sweet spot between traditional and electric.

The CD starts off brightly with a track where they “got their groove on,” as they put it, called The Ridiculous Thinker (adeptly illustrating their ability to create a very attractive and danceable setting for a dandy tune). Or take Frank’s Reels, which goes from an ominous and heavy opening beat to some freewill abandon. They refer to their music as “interceltic,” and they do cross boundaries easily. There is the Eastern European longing on The Tale Of Nikolai, The Dancing Bear, or the grand piece of Breton trance music, Drum ‘N’ Breizh, or the astounding wizardry on the appropriately-named The Accordionist’s Despair (which they call “an unholy union of Bach and Metallica”). But they also feature tender waltzes, like Hummingbird, and striking singing such as on Caru Pum Merch (about someone’s love for a woman through the different ages of a lifetime together). There is no better way of celebrating any anniversary than by immersing oneself in this release.

Ivan Emke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.