The album title reflects the disparate themes of history, identity and social commentary contained within, referring to the idea that we don’t have the freedom to make the world as we would choose, but instead live amongst the ruins of previous generations. Some of these ruins can be beautiful links to our past, providing a sense of place and cultural identity, whilst others are dangerous obstacles that hinder our progress. The result is an engaging collection of songs, some of which pay tribute to what has gone before whilst others address the here and now.
As the follow-up to 2013’s Y Bardd Anfarwol (The Immortal Bard) – an ambitious intercontinental project during which Bonello travelled to China to create an album combining both Welsh and Chinese traditions – Ruins/Adfeilion looks much closer to home, but with no less a global outlook. Gwen Lliw’r Lili (Gwen colour of the Lilly) is a fitting album opener; a traditional Welsh folk song from the Maria Jane Williams Collection, Ancient National Airs of Gwent and Morgannwg (1844) and an outward statement on the continuing influence of Welsh folk music on Bonello’s writing. Further into the record, songs such as Rivers of Gold and Suffer the Small Birds address the state of contemporary politics whilst Bound for Lampedusa despairs at the plight of refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea.
Mostly recorded live over a five day session, Ruins / Adfeilion is a record that yields more with each listen, graced as it is with fabulous playing from some of the finest musicians in Wales.