Link to Living Tradition Homepage





ALLAN YN Y FAN - Cool, Calm & Collected

ALLAN YN Y FAN - Cool, Calm & Collected
Steam Pie SPCD10175

The last word in the disc’s title provides the biggest clue to this new release from premier Welsh band Allan Yn Y Fan; it’s a compilation that aims to capture the band’s development through the first decade of its existence, over which they’ve produced four albums (and an EP in collaboration with harpist Delyth Jenkins).

On the strength of this collection alone, it has been a significantly stimulating and consistently enjoyable ride and its freshly re-mastered 13 tracks afford ample opportunity to revisit and re-evaluate the band’s achievements. The even-handed nature of the compilation (three tracks from each of the four albums, with one from the EP) is further accentuated by the credible sequence of the disc, which intersperses tracks from each album more or less in turn; this process also emphasises the enviable consistency of the band’s output in terms of both quality and vision. This can only partly be attributable to the fact that over the decade the outfit has seen just one line-up change (following album number two, Belonging, when initial fiddle player Emma Trend left and was replaced by Meriel Field, who also took on the crucial lead vocal role). The core trio of founders Geoff Cripps (guitar, bass, keyboard), Linda Simmons (mandolin, mandola, bodhrán), Kate Strudwick (flute, recorders, whistles) and Chris Jones (accordion, piano, whistles, flute) has remained in situ, with all the concomitant benefits of a growing and onwardly developing ensemble dynamic.

Right from Allan Yn Y Fan’s debut offering, the landmark set Off The Map, these elements can be traced as a continuous, linking thread and providing ample evidence of the foursome’s exhilarating take on the previously unjustly neglected traditional music of Wales (which is, of course, distinctively different from its Irish and Scottish companions); this take has also readily embraced the writing of fresh material in that idiom alongside it. The marked feeling of exhilaration might seem to belie the “cool, calm” epithet – but only in the sense that the band members take their music-making very much in their stride, appearing cool and calm perhaps rather than white-heat, while equally clearly they’re also having tremendous fun. The only criticism I’d make of this well-rounded collection is its lack of notes (or at very least basic translations of the song titles etc. for non-Welsh speakers).

By the way, the name of the band, Allan Yn Y Fan, conveys the essence of being Out In The Van – this most likely being a direct reference to their exhaustive long-term ambassadorship, establishing the rightful importance and place of Wales within Celtic music and helping to put it well and truly on the musical map.

David Kidman

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 101 of The Living Tradition magazine.