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CALAN - Solomon

CALAN - Solomon
Sain Recordings SCD2749

The fourth album release from Welsh quintet Calan should surely reinforce their renown as one of the best contemporary Celtic bands on the international scene. With the formidable combined musical skills of Angharad Siân Jenkins (fiddle), Alice French (harp), Bethan Rhiannon (lead vocal, accordion, clog stepping, percussion), Sam Humphreys (guitar, percussion, effects) and Patrick Rimes (fiddle, bagpipes, pibgorn, whistle, hulusi), invited guests provide some saxophone, trumpet and trombone, along with Nigel Jenkins’ ‘heavenly’ sampled voice reading from his poem, The Creation, on vigorous opening patriotic paean, Kân.

Melding their developmental arrangements of traditional material with original composed material into complex sets of music and song (mainly in the Welsh language) across 12 tracks, there’s a wide spectrum of variety and dynamic interest in their pacing, layering and movement. The delightful legato beauty of wedding tune, Hayes And Quinn’s, gently nuanced vox and guitar (Fender Stratocaster with vintage tube amp) combo on traditional love song, Pe Cawn I Hom, and instantly hooking prog. (folk) rock of winsomely catchy single, Apparition, with its intricate and sparkly harp undercurrent, typify their sophisticated versatility.

Often echoic of the progressive end of the best of contemporary Breton folk fusion by the distinctive use of harp in melodic and rhythmic roles (cheese homage Madame Fromage most notably perhaps), their effortless ease of shifting from authentic folk stylings to modern musical modes with wide genre reach, and keen sense of adventure (sartorially too, though not to the extent, yet, of Tri Yann!), it’s no surprise they’ve won an international folk award at Lorient.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.