Mick Tems, FolkWales Online Magazine
No sooner had Olion Byw’s promising debut CD stopped generating admiring compliments than the duo announced that their second album is about to be released; and for anyone who thought that Dan Lawrence and Lucy Rivers had made a pretty impressive start, this one even tops Hen Bethau Newydd. Dan and Lucy still maintain their repertoire of tried and trusted songs and tunes from the Welsh tradition, but this time they throw into the melting pot several experimental, mouth-watering morsels to savour. Olion Byw translates as Living Traces, and this couple are actually mining the history, the motherlode of Welsh culture. With Lucy on soulful, fine fiddle and Dan on adventurous, questing guitar and bright mandolin, those traces are healthily blossoming.
The sleeve notes says that migration is a recurring theme in the folk songs of many cultures, and it’s also true of Wales; whether it’s a move for love, heartbreak, money, war or merely to see the world, these songs hold a resonance. Dylan Fowler expertly produces the album from his delightful wooden Stwdio Felin Fach and plays some sparse, stunning pedal steel on the opening track, ‘Llongau Caernarfon’, Lucy’s clear voice rings out appealingly through the echoes. Calan’s Beth Williams-Jones clog-steps smartly through the well-known ‘Tŷ Coch Caerdydd’, but Lucy rings the changes with her own memorable tune ‘Y Mynydd Du’, which takes The Black Mountain as its inspiration and deserves to be played loud and often.
Dylan (tabwrdd) and Mark O’Connor (cajon and percussion) skilfully augment the background, but Lucy and Dan shine through with a highly original ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ mixed with the Iolo Jones tune ‘Jigolo’, the graceful Breton An Dro, the 11/8 brilliance of Pete Stacey’s ‘Taith Madog’ and the haunting beauty of ‘Gwêl Yr Adeilad’ – definitely a CD to keep and treasure.
Hen Bethau Newydd
Mick Tems, FolkWales Online Magazine - March 2012
What lovely, lovely music! Olion Byw are fiddler Lucy Rivers and guitar/mandolinist Dan Lawrence, and their first album is a complete delight. Imaginative, constructive and fresh as the morning dew, Hen Bethau Newydd (Old New Things) warms to you like hell.
Olion Byw means Living Remains, and both Lucy and Dan have theatre connections. There must be hundreds of fiddle-guitar combinations, in Wales let alone in Britain, but Lucy and Dan shine above all the rest with really inspirational playing. Take the opening track, Lisa Lân for example: as a CD reviewer, I’m pretty much anaethetised by any arrangement that this old chestnut could throw at me. But I hadn’t reckoned with these two intelligent and daring musicians; As soon as the CD kicked in, the rippling, questing guitar paved the way for the dainty, delicate fiddle, the two instruments weaving webs of magic. And as soon as you have got over the pleasant shock, Lucy’s voice starts its journey… lock the door, shut the curtains, because I want to listen!
Both Dan and Lucy are confident and competent in the playing stakes; Lucy is a very fine fiddler, embellished with an Irish influence. Dan’s guitar and mandolin accompaniment is an absolute joy. It’s difficult to pick out the favourites, but I’ll go for Dawns Forys Gymreig, Ym Mhontypridd Mae Nghariad, Ar Lan Y Môr and Môn – all well-known songs and tunes, but transformed into new culture by sparkling arrangements.