Carreg Lafar are a five-piece band from Wales and Aur is their fourth album in a career that has spanned 20 years. From the front cover picture, with its carefully arranged Victoriana it’s clear that this is going to be an album of traditional music and a glance at the track list confirms it will be in Welsh. That gave me two options; I could try to translate, or accept the language as part of the sound. I went for the latter and discovered an album of great charm and delightful music, although the bi-lingual sleeve notes give some useful pointers.
The album opens with ‘Aderyn Bach’ or ‘Little Bird’ is is very up tempo. The song is brought to life by the stylish singing of Linda Owen Jones and also demonstrates the wide range of instruments the band have at their disposal. This song, I am certain, also introduced me to a new instrument; the pidgorn or horn pipe. It has an ethereal quality, not quite a Northumberland pipe, but far more ancient sound.
Following that comes a love song ‘Cariad Aur’, which is absolutely beautiful mainly because the musicians blend together so well. Here the flute, fiddle and voices weave through each other solidly supported by Danny KilBride’s guitar.
Each of the songs has been carefully selected and placed within the album to give a range of style and tempo that keeps everything fresh. For example the lively ‘Tom, Dic A Chwrw’ is followed by the lullaby ‘Baban Bach’ before the album ends on another love song ‘Titrwm Tatrwm’.
Welsh traditional music has never had the exposure of its Gaelic cousins and yet this album shows it is a vibrant genre in its own right, which deserves to more widely heard and appreciated. Carreg Lafar, along with other bands such as Allan Yn Y fan, are certainly providing us with an opportunity to listen and we would be missing out if we didn’t take up their invitation.
The album is available from the band’s website, or from various sources as both CD and download.
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Artists’ website: http://www.carreglafar.co.uk
Carreg Lafar live (Caution: bagpipes):