IONA & ANDY - Y FFORDD
The country duo are as busy as ever, and with the imminent release of ‘Y Ffordd’ their 6th album for SAIN records, the rest of 2007 sets to be as entertaining as the last twenty five years! Already this year they’ve toured in the USA and most recently they embarked on a tour of Germany with 60 or so fans.
’40 of our fans from Wales came with us to the USA’; explains Iona. ‘In Nashville, we were asked to sing some songs by our friend Kathy Chiavola (a blugrass legend!) She was launching her new CD at the Station Inn. We’ve recorded a Welsh version of one of her songs on the new album. Her band, who performed with us on stage, were amazing! Kenny Malone, former drummer with Johnny Cash; Dave Pomeroy, who was Don Williams’ bass player and a mandolin player called Brent Truitt who recently toured the world with Dolly Parton. As you can imagine it was an amazing experience performing with such stellar musicians!’
Recording the new album has been a very exciting project for Iona & Andy as it shows perhaps more than any previous release, the huge versatility in the styles of music they sing. Iona comes from a folk background and Andy from rock ‘n roll both facets of which are reflected on this album as well as the country music feel they are perhaps best known for. In fact it could be described as a folk, rock, country, acoustic compilation of great songs new and old. Maartin Allcock was asked to produce the album, he’s a hugely respected musician who has been part of two of the most important folk/rock bands of the last 20 years – Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull. His multi instrumental skills are much in evidence on the album and he brought a new feel and sound to some of their music. Alongside Maartin, some of the finest musicians from the North of England were brought on board. Iain Bradshaw on keyboards and Dave Rowlands on pedal steel and dobro, were joined by Len Whitehead on guitar and a wonderful young fiddle player from Belfast called Eimar Bradley. For backing vocals Iona called on her cousin Mirain Haf and friend Carwyn Llyr. Their fine harmony singing added a new dimension to Iona & Andy’s vocals, the two cousins blending especially well on ‘Y Gwir’.
The songs were gathered together from a number of different sources. Iona wrote a song about sharing her love for the place she was born with the love of her partner, ‘Lle yn fy Nghalon’ while Andy who is of course a Welsh learner is very proud of writing his first song in Welsh ‘Ffydd, Gobaith a Chariad’. ‘I liked the idea of using the well known biblical verse as the basis for a love song” he explains. The title track, ‘Y Ffordd’ a powerful ballad by Alun Sbardun Hughes also marks a first as he has also written an English version for the album. There are also songs composed by other Welsh singer-songwriters – Huw Chiswell, Alistair James, Eurof Williams, Meic Stevens and Geraint Jarman.
After 27 years in the business it is nice to make an album which accurately reflects where our music is today says Andy. In fact Iona & Andy must be doing something right as they have never been so busy as at present. They have a number of shows between the release of their cd and Christmas, travelling the length and breadth of the country and they’ll certainly be living ‘Y Ffordd’.