Derw have released their debut single “Dau Gam”
Cardiff, Welsh band, Derw, have released their debut single “Dau Gam”. Translated to English, “Dau Gam” means “two steps.” Hauntingly beautiful female vocals and a rustling sound robust with earthy tones and folksy strings, “Dau Gam” is sung in Welsh, but no translator is needed for the multitude of connections listeners will experience.
As stated from their bio, Derw started as a project between songwriter Dafydd Dabson and his lyricist mother, Anna Georgina, following a finalist finish of the S4C songwriting competition, Can I Gymru (2018). Singing lead is Welsh and Iranian singer Elin Fouladi. “Dau Gam” is from the EP Yr Unig Rhai Sy’n Cofio, which means The Only Ones Who Remember. Collaborating on the EP are musicians from various Welsh bands – Zervas and Pepper, Afrocluster and Codewalkers. Derw is named after Georgina’s father and passing down stories from generations. With strong ties to the past, songs like “Dau Gam” keeps these stories documented and alive.
“Dau Gam” starts out with a vintage record sound, the needle stuck on the inner circle, with murmured voices escaping. Then, a warm, piano bed stretches with Fouladi’s angelic voice floating above the keys. The song fills the room, as a melodic electric guitar swallows some of the air. The vibe is rich, with greens and amber colors sprinkled in tone from saturating sea-side hues. I suspect the beginning 78 vinyl sound is like the words of ancestors, of yesteryear playing in our hearts and in our minds. Their voices symbolically nurture the fable the tall tales passed down generation to generation.
I think there’s a lot of love and pride in Fouladi’s moving vocals. Again, feeling a bit disadvantaged for not having the English lyrics, I wish I could be more specific. On the other hand, I’m glad I don’t have the translation and that I’m not fluent in Welsh. It’s such a beautiful language and the sentimentality is warmly felt. I connected with the song in a way that goes beyond literal meaning. It’s like hearing a soundtrack to a historical film and the score empowers the scene to take on a whole other emotion. By not knowing the lyrics I could easily drift away into my own personal history and envision what life might have been like centuries long ago.
No, this song isn’t the soundtrack to Game Of Thrones, Highlander or Outlander. It’s what you want it to be and Derw combine stellar musicality and familial emotion triggering an immediate connection. There is a sense of worldliness, of something beyond our own borders. It’s a bridge from the past to the present. It’s modern sounding with nods to the roots of years long gone.
Yr Unig Rhai Sy’n Cofio is available via CEG Records. Other songs on the EP are “Silver”, “Mikhail”, “Estyn Dy Law” and “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr”. The stories we carry down from generation to generation are so important and putting these memories to song is outstanding. Derw are quite enjoyable and “Dau Gam” is stunningly beautiful.