Traditional Celtic music is one of the greatest joys of the British Isles and I for one cannot get enough of the great diversity in Celtic music that we see in the current market. Traditions from England, Ireland, Scotland and even the Isle of Man all have their unique features and elements that make them what they are.
When thinking about the Welsh traditional, Allan Yn Y Fan are likely to be one of the first names that people will put forward. The band has been operating since 1996 and has nicely slotted itself as the cornerstone of traditional Welsh Music.
Their latest album, NEWiD, has been long wanted and certainly does not disappoint. The album just shows us that Allan Yn Y Fan will never disappoint and will give hungry Celtic fans a full banquet to enjoy.
What I have always enjoyed about Allan Yn Y Fan is that they have never tried to create their own 'Unique' sound and base every track around that sound. Allan Yn Y Fan treats every single piece of music they create as an entirely separate entity. The use of instruments and vocals throughout the entirely album are different for every single piece of music. This also shows us that as a group they are the definition of working together. We clearly feel a group of people have come together to create beautiful music.
We are introduced to the album with 'Marwnad yr Ehedydd'. This track opens up with a slow and soothing guitar to ease you up before powerful and magical vocals pull through to give you goose bumps and really starts the album on a complete high. Celtic songs are notoriously difficult but sound like something from another world when done with the kind of talent and work that we have in this track. Shivers.
Allan Yn Y Fan are not a one trick pony. Celtic songs are a challenge in their own right but are just one branch on the tree of Celtic variety. 'Sbaen Wenddydd' gives us a great instrumental piece that is everything you want from Celtic music. The music is fast paced and with a great variety in instruments that really gets your foot tapping.
One thing in particular that stuck out about this album is the variety in instruments throughout the entire album. It helps to keep the music as fresh for listeners. Allan Yn Y Fan are on their sixth album now all thanks to the way they can give every piece of music its own spark of life.
'Gorthrwm y Gweithiwr' is a particular track that stuck out for me. I don't speak any traditional Celtic languages but this song is one that was sung with such rhythm and passion that you can feel that there is a story being told. I have always regarded the best singers in any tradition to be those who are story tellers. Similarly the band's lead singer Catrin gives this same feeling on the a capella track 'Dafydd y Garreg Wen'. A story is being told and you don't even need to understand the words to feel that.
Allan Yn Y Fan are a true roots band, they keep the beauty of Celtic music alive and relevant in a world with such musical diversity. I for one hope that I get to hear at least another six albums.
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