DAN AMOR – Afonydd A Drysau (Recordiau Cae Gwyn CD 009)

Afonydd A DrysauI am rather fond of Dan Amor’s previous album, Rainhill Trials. It was a little off-the-wall and catchy but didn’t force itself upon you. With Afonydd A Drysau (Rivers And Doors) he’s returned entirely to God’s language for the first time in several years.

I was most unwell when I came to start work on this review but I found that lying in a dark room with Dan’s swirling acoustic rhythms was actually most theraputic. That said, ‘Sara Sahara’ and ‘Penwythnos Heulog’ wouldn’t have allowed me to fall asleep but that wasn’t actually the idea. The short instrumental opener, ‘Chwefror Y Pumed’, begins with what I take to be the sound of agricultural machinery followed by a long slow roll of thunder with Dan’s acoustic guitars sounding like falling rain.

Dan plays everything on the album except for Huw Owen’s drums and bass and  Llŷr Pari who plays bass on one track. There are more snippets of field recordings including bird song and in places Dan sounds rather like The Beatles would have had they only been brought up on Welsh folksong. It’s partly his sweet multi-tracked vocal harmonies and partly his way with a melody that inevitably points in that direction. Sadly, my Welsh is next to non-existent but Dan promises that translations of  the songs will appear on the label’s Bandcamp page. There are not there yet but I did work out that ‘Addo Glaw’ is about rain; that ‘Afon Caseg’ is a valley in Snowdonia and that ‘Weithiau’, the last track, translates as “sometimes”. After that, we’re all alone in the wilderness.

I do find Welsh vocals very attractive, as I do Gaelic, even though I don’t understand the words and I do like Afonydd A Drysau. It’s available to download and stream now with limited edition physical copies on sale next year.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Penwythnos Heulog’ – official video:

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Cynefin Cae Gwyn (Cae Gwyn Records – download)

Cynefin Cae GwynCae Gwyn Records is a small independent record label run by the enterprising Dan Amor whose Rainhill Trials was a delightful breath of fresh air this year. Cynefin Cae Gwyn is a compilation of nine of Cae Gwyn’s artists based in the village of Penmachno in north Wales. Let me emphasise that this album is available for download absolutely free. If you’ve ever wondered about Welsh music at the grassroots but were afraid to ask, now is your chance – just follow the link.

The set opens with ‘Gwallt’, a simple piano based song by Ebol Digon Tebol lifted by sweet harmonies. Dan Amor himself appears three times – could be more as I suspect that everyone plays alongside everyone else. The first of these is in partnership with Huw Owens on the silly sounding ‘Ym Ym Ai Ia’ and I’m sorry if it’s a desperately serious song. They return with the organ-driven ‘Cyfandirol’ and Dan solos with ‘Mawrth’. Three of the bands, Falcons, Sen Segur and Mr Huw, are gently indie-pop with Tom ap Dan following the same line although a bit heavier. Ben Marshall finger-picks some delightful guitar on ‘Tonnau Gwanwyn’ and Sión Richards follows the familiar singer-songwriter path.

There’s great variety here from artists who are not yet well known but deserve a wider audience. Don’t fret about the language barrier, either, music is a universal language.

Dai Jeffries

Download link: http://cynefincaegwyn.bandcamp.com/releases

DAN AMOR – new album and streamed single

Rainhill TrialsOut May 12th on Recordiau Cae Gwyn Records


Rolling out of the mountains and valleys of North Wales comes acoustic songwriter Dan Amor, and his new album ‘Rainhill Trials’, due for UK release on 12th May 2014. Staying true to his roots his music provides the perfect soundtrack to life in North Wales with a knack of transporting you into a rural paradise.

‘The beaten up old gate in red cracked paint / distant lights that flicker out to sea / windswept promenades, adorning old postcards / Birdsong, braying dogs and bumblebees’

Dan Amor also sings in Welsh, and not just as a token nod to his heritage. ‘Rainhill Trials’ is interspersed with the language as a testament to his ideal that you don’t have to understand what’s being said to appreciate the music – the melodies, the rhythm and all its embellishments provide meaning of their own.

It would be easy to compare Dan Amor with the sounds of Belle and Sebastian, Nick Drake and The Beatles but he can certainly forge his own name and identity amongst these heavyweights. He’s already had a nod of approval from the likes of Lauren Laverne who named ‘Better The Angel You Know’ as her headphone moment of the day, and John Peel played ‘Every Little Thing I Say Gets You Down’ a song written by Dan for his former band Gabrielle 25. His music has been played on BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 6 Music, with his last album ‘Neigwl’ receiving widespread airplay on the latter station.

Radio coverage, as well as live support slots for Aqualung, The Proclaimers and Billy Bragg has certainly impacted on ‘Rainhill Trials’ which oozes an air of quiet confidence. This is a man who’s assured in his own music and knows how to encapsulate his stories and emotions into an effortless stream of melodies and words.

Retaining his own sound and style, Rainhill Trials is infused with Welsh culture, setting Dan Amor apart from every artist with a voice, guitar, and a skill for writing creative lines.

“Dan Amor recalls Syd Barrett’s fractured solo years or even the incessant introspection which John Lennon found in the ashram…It’s beautifully frail, with the songwriting exuding a lingering warmth.Clash

To buy or find more like this: http://recordiaucaegwyn.com/