Before I get to what will be a generally good review of Llewellyn’s WolfLore, I have to say that I could have done with less actual wolf. I’m for all establishing a thematic through-line, but sometimes less is more. Give me a wolf howl at the start of the disc, then tell your story. I get it. Unforunately for my tastes, the howling is peppered throughout WolfLore, and in spots it’s more distracting than enhancing. That being said, WolfLore is an ear-pleasing, toe-tapping bit of world music that brings in flavors from Celtic to Native American and beyond to honor this animal teacher and guide. Your mind may go straight to the Enigma file when the title tracks kicks into gear. Between the catchy backbeat and the sound of the flute here, I kept waiting for a whispery “Mea culpa” to float in. A drop that brings in acoustic guitar is handled perfectly. Llewellyn’s guitar work is definitely a highlight throughout the disc. Its rich Spanish flair runs through “Lunar Power” as it trades the spotlight with flute; on “The Teacher” it picks up some Andean cred to go with beautiful pan flute and traditional flute over hushed pads. Two tracks here stand out for their energy and slight departure from the New Age template that guides the disc. “Running Free” starts out a bit on the twinkly side, with piano and bird song, almost to the point where it’s too sugary for me, but then an electronic beat and bass riff come in to start a bit of a fire, transforming into a hoot-and-holler Celtic dance of pure joy. Violin and bodhran plant us firmly in the heart of Eire. “The Clan Returns” comes in on heavy drums before melding into a very cool downtempo groove. Flute here takes on a light-jazz tone, playing across hand percussion. The beats are nicely complex, and instantly infectious. More guitar rounds out the laid-back sound.
Once again, Llewellyn has offered up a very smooth blend of sounds and styles that transcend the mystical/New Age overlay of his musical persona. This disc should be filed under World Music for its globe-spanning influence. You could even take off its wolf suit and it would stand nicely on its own as a solid guitar and flute disc with strong Celtic roots and some lounge influence. A pleasant, well-crafted journey from Llewellyn.
Available from Paradise Music.