Raised by a Welsh activist mother and a Cornish poet father, Gwenno Mererid Saunders has become a one-woman Celtic revival over her two previous albums, 2014’s Welsh-language Y Dydd Olaf and 2018’s all-Cornish Le Kov. Using slinky synth-pop backings, both fuse language, landscape and identity, by turns angry and playful.
Tresor continues in a similar but more accomplished vein, setting layers of Gwenno’s ethereal vocals against arrangements that slip between the polished pop of Ardamm and psych-folk explorations such as Men An Toll, a soundscape for a trio of standing stones at Land’s End. As usual, Gwenno’s partner, multi-instrumentalist Rhys Edwards, remains at the production controls, but this is very much a collaborative effort. Though NYCAW (Nid yw Cymru ar Werth – Wales is Not for Sale) flies the flag for her homeland, the rest of Tresor is rendered in Cornish. While occasionally confrontational – “Where is your mother tongue?” it demands at one point – its songs are predominantly introspective and allusive, drawing on nature (Kan Me celebrates the May hawthorn) and on Gwenno’s recent entrance into motherhood. An ambitious album (it comes with an 8mm film and several quirky videos) from a unique artist.