TEYR - Estren
Teyr (the feminine form of the Cornish word for the number three) is the group name adopted back in 2013 by James Patrick Gavin (fiddle, guitar), Dominic Henderson (uilleann pipes, whistles) and Tommie Black-Roff (accordion). Teyr’s 2016 debut CD, Far From The Tree, impressed me with the musicians’ inventive approach to the playing and arranging of tunes and songs, their flair for original composition and the distinctive aural soundscape conjured by their specific instrumental blend.
The title of their beautifully packaged second album, Estren, is the Cornish word for stranger, reflecting not only the album’s loose themes of travel, immigration and identity but also an interim period (2017/8) during which the three musicians migrated from group activity to concentrate on other projects. Although the opening linked pair of tunes picks up where Teyr’s debut album left off, this gambit proves no more than a springboard for the typically freewheeling and tightly coordinated musical adventures that follow.
Notwithstanding the richness of the soundscapes, there’s now an even more immediate quality to the organic creativity of the trio’s music, which stems increasingly from their expansive yet considered collaboration with a diverse array of fellow-musicians who form the guest-list here. As a result, each individual track has its own piquant flavour, with a largely different complement added to the Teyr sound – which in itself is capable of quite a bit of transformation and variety. There’s now more of an emphasis on experimental layering and interweaving of textures too, and singer Ruth Corey plays a significant part here, with contributions ranging from spirited lead (The Drummer) and harmonies (Flower Of The Sun) to wordless vocals (Little Giants). Other notable additions to the Teyr group sound include Sid Goldsmith and Hilary Coleman (on the title song, a vivid re-creation of a song from East Cornwall), cellist Abel Selacoe (on the curious, haunting Bayou waltz, La Bestia), and a quartet of string players (on the gorgeously atmospheric tone-painting Kuusilta and the drifting, beguiling Gone Is The Traveller). But it’s still the trademark dynamic energy of the Teyr trio itself that most informs the sound of the album with its tightly controlled colourings and ever-imaginative settings.
This review appeared in Issue 139 of The Living Tradition magazine