RAided by an activist mother from Wales and a poet from Cornwall, Gwenno Mererid Saunders has become a one-woman Celtic revival over her two previous albums, 2014’s Welsh Language. The last day and 2018’s all-Cornish the Kov† Using slinky synth-pop backgrounds, language, landscape and identity merge, alternately angry and playful.
Darling continues in a similar but more accomplished fashion, juxtaposing Gwenno’s ethereal vocals with arrangements that lie somewhere between Ardamm’s polished pop and psych-folk explorations such as Men An Toll, a soundscape for a trio of standing stones set in Land’s End. As usual, Gwenno’s partner, multi-instrumentalist Rhys Edwards, remains on production controls, but this is mostly a collaborative effort. Although NYCAW (Nid yw Cymru ar Werth – Wales is Not for Sale) flies the flag for its home country, the rest of Darling is displayed in Cornish. Though occasionally confrontational – †Where is your native language?† it requires at some point – the songs are mostly introspective and allusive, based on nature (Kan Me celebrates the hawthorn) and on Gwenno’s recent foray into motherhood. An ambitious album (with an 8mm film and some quirky videos) by a unique artist.