Patrobas : Lle awn ni nesa'?

Nearly two years after their notable debut EP, Dwyn y Dail, Patrobas have released an album that fully delivers on their early promise. Lle awn ni nesa'? is first-rate contemporary folk; a fusion of deep rooted musical heritage and understated rock, threaded through with a keen pop sensibility.

Since their first release the band, Wil Chidley, Iestyn Tyne and Carwyn Williams (on drums, but who also plays bass in Anglesey rock band Fleur de Lys), have been augmented by Gruffydd Davies. Gruffydd primarily contributes bass to these recordings, and has a background that takes in orchestral music and brass bands, which adds another dimension to Patrobas.

With the varied background and interest of each of the four members there is an awful lot of hinterland to be drawn on for their new songs. Most obviously in places you can hear the impression left by Wil's love of Mumford & Sons, elsewhere the closer to home influence of Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog is inescapable; but endless live performances have given the band the time to develop their own coherent sound. It's evident especially in the album's standout tracks: listen to Mi fydd hi'n fora (Morning Shall Come), Paid rhoi fyny (Don't give up) and the irresistible singalong Castell Aber - and all three offer distinctive and elating music.

There is no weak link, the balance and deft interplay between each musician is Patrobas' essential foundation stone - but in this collection of songs Iestyn Tyne's violin is especially notable in the way it breathes life and excites whenever it appears. The instrumentals he takes the lead on - Difyrrwch Sieff-Sieffre and Dormeo - are energised by his vivid playing, but elsewhere he has the same consistent impact.

The last song of the set, Dalianiala, has a gorgeous, plaintive guest vocal from Branwen Williams duetting with Wil, and an expressive cornet part, played by Gruffydd. The combination is heart melting - a shift in mood from the rest of the album, but a perfect close.

Even with the clear positive signals from their debut EP, Lle awn ni nesa'? is an unexpected box of delights from the Llŷn peninsula. Open hearted, uplifting and infectious music written under a big sky - undeniably magnificent.


PATROBAS I Paid Rhoi Fyny (Video) & Difyrrwch Sieff-Sieffre (Live : Heno, S4C)