October sees the return of acclaimed Cardiff singer-songwriter and folk musician Gareth Bonello, also known as The Gentle Good.
A collaborator of a great many beloved artists, including Cate Le Bon, Richard James (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) and Welsh Music Prize winner Georgia Ruth, Bonello’s fourth album ‘Ruins/Adfeilion’ is one that’s title alone serves best to reflect the disparate themes within.
Although not represented by a single concept, the songs have common themes of history, identity and social commentary. The title refers to a realisation that there is no true freedom to make the world as we would choose, but instead have to live among the ruins of previous generations. Some of these ruins are beautiful links to our past, providing a sense of place and cultural identity for instance, while others are dangerous obstacles that hinder our progress.
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As the follow-up to 2013’s ‘Y Bardd Anfarwol (The Immortal Bard)‘ – an ambitious intercontinental project during which Bonello travelled to Chengdu, China, to create a project combining both Welsh and Chinese traditions – ‘Ruins/Adfeilion‘ looks much closer to home but with no lesser global outlook. Many of the songs featured here pay tribute to the past while others address contemporary issues such as ‘Rivers Of Gold’, a protest song about trickledown economics.
Another track – ‘Pen draw’r Byd (The Far Side of The World)‘ – Bonello describes as a “feminist zombie folk song”, saying: “This is a song about a young girl awaiting the return of her sailor boy. These tragic females commonly appear in Welsh folk song and their role is almost always to wander some bleak shoreline and helplessly yearn for the return of their lost love, who usually never comes back.”
He continued: “I wanted to turn the tradition around and so in this song the young lady curses the sea and wishes it be left to the lonesome cries of the seagulls. In the last verse she tells herself that even if her young love should return from the dead complete with a crown of sand and seaweed in his hair she would still beg the moon to drag the sea and everything in it to the far side of the world.”
‘Ruins/Adfeilion’ will be released October 14 via Bubblewrap Collective.
This Gentle Good article was written by Neil Stopforth, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.