A Gower Garland
Wild Goose (www.wildgoose.co.uk)
Calennig paints a musical portrait of a Welsh past redolent with surface familiarity, especially in its conformity with contemporary nostalgic notions of Christmas, but also deeply challenging in the pagan pageantry implicated in Yule traditions. On A Gower Garland, their tribute to the late Gower Peninsula minstrel Phil Tanner, Mick Tems and Patricia Carron-Smith's dual accordions offer high-spirits and incipient goofiness, but without an overtly humorous intent. Tems' vocals are so spirited you can hear his smile; Smith adds open-toned, slightly over-the-top accompaniment.
Calennig shines brightest on their story songs. "Gowerton Fair" is a first person narrative of an amorous swain thwarted by a coy miner's wife. On "The Mistletoe Bough," a piano and violin waltz, Tems and Smith exchange lead lines in the tale of the tragic forbidden love of a man and a fairy. "Soap, Starch, Candles" is a nuanced a cappella tale of a man, his sweety, and her father's corner store, to the proprietorship of which he reluctantly but happily succeeds. A Gower Garland is a triumphant preservation of a peculiar past, one in which it is a pleasure to become lost. - Jim Foley
Audio:(c)2000 Wild Goose Studios, used by permission
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