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CALAN - Deg 10

CALAN - Deg 10
Sain Records SCD2790

Calan’s ten years of activity has seen the band grow and develop into one of the leading new Welsh Celtic-based groups. From their first album, Bling, they exuded both musical class and image nous, and presented an exciting new vision for young musicians and music fans. In their ranks they had musicians and singers whose grasp of ethnic traditions was ironclad and their dedication to their craft beyond question. Their albums so far all bear witness to musical dexterity and emotional depth as well as a fresh vibrant presentation of Welsh folk music for the new generation.

It’s fitting then that after 10 years there be some kind of artistic marking stone for their first period, and here we have just that. Here are 18 tracks gathered from their albums, including some new material and two new mixes of Apparition and Synnwyr Solomon, previously issued as singles. Musically the forefront has harp, pipes, fiddle and accordion, with stringed backing and percussion on the up-tempo sets. The rich powerful sound can be heard on Swansea Hosepipe, Big D and Slip Jigs sets where the approach is solid, rhythmic and melodic, with an energetic youthful exuberance and flourish. Vocally, Bethan Rhiannon excels on the plaintive Jonah (which could have come from an early 70s English contemporary folk songbook), the traditional ballad Blodau’r Flwyddyn, and group originals like Cariad Caerl?r and the strident nationalistic Kân. They sing, dance and play with equal aplomb and have created a unique body of work mirroring their musical development and personal confidence. DEG 10 is the end of book one of Calan’s rise and success story. Here’s to the next decade - it’s going to be exciting if nothing else.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.