Welsh act Derw deliver a gorgeously melodic effort in their new single “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” that has a lot of critics talking this season, and if you give the track even a cursory listen, I think you’re going to understand what all of the fuss has been about. While “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” is an aesthetical fusion of modern pop and old world folk music, it doesn’t feel like the same kind of hybridity that has been burning up the indie charts in the western hemisphere. There’s something unbelievably fresh about this number, and moreover, the musicians who comprise Derw. 

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Aside from the lead vocal, which definitely demands a reaction out of even the most discriminating of critical ears, the instrumentation in this single is remarkably evocative. Texturally and tonally, there’s a narrative being explained and further colorized just by the piano keys in “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” that linguistics just can’t cover on their own, and within the universe of contemporary pop music, that isn’t the kind of feature I typically expect to find. It’s what separates the erudite from the moderately trite, and in this scenario, it makes Derw sound and look all the more artsy and focused than they already would have. 

There’s definitely a heavy chamber pop influence to this act’s sound, and you needn’t look past the insular harmonies conveying each lyric to us to pick up on its presence. I do like that Derw aren’t quite as conservative in their attack as some of the other crossovers I’ve been reviewing in 2020 have been, and yet they’re not too eager to splurge in areas that most critics – myself included – would have been quick to describe as excessive. Maybe they’re not completely sure who they are yet, but if “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” is any sort of representation of what they want to be, I’ll definitely be checking out their next single. 

The piano keys get a little brutish towards the end of the song as they try to match the brawn of the fleeting string element, but they find some incredible balance in an increasingly fragile vocal that channels the essence of yearning at the conclusion of “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr.” One of the things that made me really intrigued by Derw upon hearing them for the very first time was their creative duality, and more importantly, how they chose to use it for their own gain. They’re dedicated to the songwriting, which is more than I can say for some of their closest rivals. 

I just got turned on to Derw with their string of studio cuts in 2020, but I really like where they’re going with their sound in “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr.” There haven’t been many Welsh acts to make it big outside of the European market, but with the kind of harmoniousness this band has going for them, I think they’re going to have a real shot at breaking some new ground once they get a full-length album under their belts. “Ble Cei Di Ddod I Lawr” is a homerun, and if you haven’t listened to it already, I think you should do so immediately. 

Garth Thomas