Photo: Bozeanne Davis
All-Star Bands are often to be treated with caution. Three experienced and internationally renowned soloists do not automatically make a good trio. All the nicer if, as in the present recording, they succeed wonderfully. Despite restricted rehearsal time these three distinctive individualists got together and made it seem light and easy. And what makes it even more valuable: they create an unmistakable trio sound. Dylan Fowler from Wales, Berlin-based Scotsman Ian Melrose and the Breton Soig Sibéril explore their Celtic heritage as an organic unit. In addition to traditional Breton, Scottish and Welsh tunes it is primarily Fowlers compositions that almost imperceptibly expand and enhance the scope. His travels around the world have left deep musical traces. The main emphasis is on the eighteen steel strings, but also lap-steel guitar, percussion and low whistles are used. And due to the fact that you never really quite know who is doing what when, there unfolds a completely relaxed and serene mood. No summit of the super-egos, but quite simply enchanting music. With "Albatross", the final tribute to Peter Green, a (Celtic) Guitar Journey ends - one that will hopefully continue in the near future.
Rolf Beydemüller FOLKER (D)
Celtic Guitar journeys
(Acoustic Music Records 319.1542.2)
Put three of your favorite guitarists from the Celtic genre together and you get a wonderful CD: Dylan Fowler (Wales), the Berlin-based Scotsman Ian Melrose and Breton guitarist Soig Siberil came together at the invitation of Lorient for a festival performance. And it worked so well that the guys decided to futher develop the project “Celtic Guitar Journeys” and record a CD.
A repertoire was assembled with a remarkable number of Welsh tunes, traditional and self-penned by Fowler. Additionally Siberil brings some Breton tunes in, again traditionals and original compostions, though his composing style means both work together effortlessly (which is which?). Melrose also contributes some Scottish traditional tunes. It makes Celtic Journey Guitars, despite being purely instrumental, a very diverse album.
And having said that, you realize when listening it is difficult to know whether you are listening to a Welsh, Breton or Scottish melody. It might seem that the musical cultures of the regions are not so terribly different, but it has more to do with the fact that the players lend each piece/set a unique identity. One tune blends seamlessly into another, there is a constant in the sound spectrum – a trio sound, which makes for an album radiating peace and enjoyment - without being in the least stale or artificial. Fowler, Melrose and Siberil solo cheerfully and cleverly.
It is difficult to discern exactly who does what in every song. Fowler takes more solos and likes jazzy chords, Siberil is the engine and Melrose the lubricating oil, see the solo halfway through McPhatter's Reel for that trademark sound. Besides guitars you hear some whistles, percussion and a very subtly played lap steel. It is a pleasure to listen to the interplay of the three virtuosos, e.g. in the Gavotte & Reel set. You wonder how these guys never once trip over their own fingers as the notes fly by, without sounding at all rushed - and then three players simultaneously!
Surprisingly, the final track is the only "non-folky” track. With great respect for the original version they play a very fine adaptation of Peter Green’s iconic guitar hit “Albatross” (Fleetwood Mac) in their unique way.