Cardiff is the capital city of Wales. It’s home the late Roald Dahl, beloved children’s author. It’s also home to the band Derw, musicians equally gifted with storytelling and putting words to music. Drawing from ancestral stories and a fine mix of folk, classical and rock blends, the debut track “Dau Gam” moves the band forward into mass awareness.
The band’s name comes from songwriter/lyricist Anna Georgina’s father’s last name. Georgina and her son, Dafydd Dabson worked together on a songwriting contest in 2018 and enjoyed the experience so much they catapulted that energy into a band. Georgina notes that her father held the family’s stories and her ancestors had quite the tales to share – putting them to song is her and her son’s way of honoring and continuing the sagas and securing for posterity.
Elin Fouladi, who is both Welsh and Iranian, is the lead singer. She’s authentic and her stirring voice, with hints pop and world music cadence, adds a sheen to the woodsy music base colored with rippling guitar and piano. The musicians performing on the single are members of Welsh bands Zervas and Pepper, Afrocluster and Codewalkers. “Dau Gam” is sung in Welsh.
According to the band’s press release, “Dau Gam” means “two steps”. The inspiration behind the song is about finding out who you truly are, and part of that process is going back in your own history, or even your family’s history. The mix is tops – the overall production is crisp and showcases Fouladi’s gorgeous vocals. Knowing that she’s much more capable of singing beyond her range just after a few stanzas, “Dau Gam” caresses the listener instead with piano weaving in-and-out like tapestry. The percussion is subtle, hibernating. An electric guitar, earthy but slick and slightly humid. The guitar has moments of pop rock and paired with Fouladi’s vocals, the synergy is quite memorable. The guitar is definitely a fine addition, with the piano and Fouladi already shining.
One doesn’t have to be fluent in Welsh to feel the “Dau Gam” impact. It’s immeasurable in the sense that with each listen, the words write themselves to your own story. The mood is there and the idea of stringing along feelings and emotions of those that became for you is indeed how you define your own self. Two steps – can also be forward, and having that knowledge and confidence of the past is empowering.
“Dau Gam” is the from the EP Yr Unig Rhai Sy’n Cofio (The Only Ones Who Remember) from CEG Records. This song allowed me to truly be connected and in the moment. I became distracted only by the beauty in Fouladi’s voice and the moving music bed. The guitar work sparked the feeling of being outside, siting in nature and just breathing in the uncorrupted air. That freeing effect felt magical. No, this song is not meant for meditating, but I felt calm, cool and collected. I felt poised and perfectly in-tuned with my thoughts. I felt, well, I felt like myself.
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