Dan Amor. Rainhill Trials. Recordiau Cae Gwyn Records

A missive from Wales with Dan Amor’s album, Rainhill Trials which handily coincides with the summer weather we’ve been experiencing as this is the sunniest album we’ve heard in some time. Amor lives in North Wales and despite a press release accompanying the album there’s precious little information to be had regarding him. Suffice to say that he’s compared to Syd Barrett and Paul McCartney much of the time although Blabber’n’Smoke thought that Donovan, Harry Nilsson and early Ben Watt would be closer to the mark. In any case Rainhill Trials is an album packed full of sun dappled songs finger picked gently as multitracked vocals barely break sweat and well mannered keyboards ripple softly. It could all collapse into whimsy but Amor manages to avoid this with an occasional darker undercurrent that threatens to upset the lazy hazy ambience. This is most apparent on the fuzzed up jangle of Dusk Bird, a song that surely was inspired by Sparklehorse while Y Gwynt (Welsh for The Wind) has a dogged VU simplicity in its riff that removes the listener from sunny climes to a more claustrophobic space.

Time here to say that Amor delivers his songs in either English or Welsh with an almost 50/50 split here but overall the non Welsh literate listener should not feel handicapped as the overall experience overcomes any language barrier. In English he sings of a nunnery as if captured in aspic on Sister Anne and relays a seafaring folk song on Landlubber (along with a faux pub sing-along intro) while Springtide is a splendid piano driven paean to nature that comes across as if Neil Innes had spoofed the Beach Boys instead of The Beatles. As for the Welsh sung songs it appears that the nature theme is maintained on Brenhines Y Tonnau (Queen Of The Waves) while Y Ci (The Dog) floats dreamily along although there is a sense of frustration in not knowing what Amor is singing here. There’s an unlisted song at the very end of the album that just about encapsulates all that preceded it as Amor breezes along riding a summer wind.

Overall it’s a perfect summer album and happily enough Amor is offering it as a download on a name your price basis here. So have a listen and decide for yourself.

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