Hanru Niemand Releases New Full-length album
It’s been four years since Hanru Niemand released the album ‘Kreeftegang’. Now, the talented Afrikaans singer-songwriter is back with his fourth full-length album, a ten-track offering ‘Opgrawings Vir ‘n Lugkasteel’. I was eager to delve into this album, as I have only recently discovered the poetic beauty that Hanru creates.
‘Opgrawings vir ŉ Lugkasteel’ has an A-side and a B-side. The A-Side (Voetstoots) contains songs that Hanru performs live regularly, while the B-Side (Ruïnes) brings something completely different to the table with four brand-new tracks: ‘Freaky Joe’, ‘Morsige Momsen’, ‘Tiran’, en ‘Die prinses se lied’. On the B-side, Hanru has also collaborated with a few highly talented local musicians, including Wilken Calitz on violin, Riku Lätti on piano, Mark Ellis on base, Jean Marais on drums and Jacobus Grimm on backing vocals.
Two songs, opening track ‘Kreeftegang Wals’ and thrid track ‘Gert Vlok Nel’, were taken from ‘Kreeftegang’ – Read the review here. It’s an interesting choice to open the new album with the last track from the preceding album. To me, it connects the two works and being the first track, it perhaps sets the mood for a more toned down album. Even comparing the covers of the two albums, there is a hint that ‘Opgrawings Vir ‘n Lugkasteel’ may have some darker themes.
The second track ‘Avis Tannie’ continues the toned-down feel of ‘Kreeftegang Wals’; It’s just Hanru and his guitar. It’s as bare and honest as the lyrics, as he details the story of meeting a woman working at car rental company, Avis. It is a typical folk song with a somewhat ominous feel to it, painting the picture of an unfavourable outcome of the interaction. Hanru has a remarkable talent for drawing the listener in. It almost feels as if you’re experiencing the encounter first-hand.
The fourth track ‘Land van Kaïn’ is a typical storytelling song, showing off Hanru’s extraordinary skill to turn ordinary stories into beautifully composed poetry. His music is characterised by acoustic guitar blended with the folky sounds of the harmonica, as can be heard on the beautiful ‘Worcester Woorde’; A charming, though slightly sad song that takes you to the platteland, 100 km from Cape Town, to the open farmlands and beautiful mountains covered in snow every winter.
Listening to, ‘Verlange’, I realise that this could very well be the theme song of the album. ‘Verlange’ tells of the story of how longing can take you on quite a turbulent journey. There are many connotations to missing something, a place or a person, on the album, as Hanru looks back on pieces of his own story. Even the darker-toned music suggests a feeling of yearning.
‘Freaky Joe’ is the only English track on the album, also introducing a slight change in the mood. With the added drums and backing vocals, Hanru fully embraces the folk sound and truly reveals his versatility.
‘Morsige Momsen’ is probably the most upbeat song on ‘Opgrawings Vir ‘n Lugkasteel’. It offers a slight break in the first half of the album, before slowing down again with the darker ‘Tiran’.
The album ends off with ‘Die Prinses Se Lied’, a short lullaby-type song. Hanru returns to the soothing sound of simply his guitar and voice. Perhaps an indication that after everything, he will always return to the basics.
Hanru Niemand has the gift of telling beautiful stories about ordinary things. Stories that everyone can relate to. Each track evokes emotion and takes you on a journey, sometimes happy, sometimes sad. I think ‘Opgrawings vir ŉ Lugkasteel’ is the ideal album to listen to this winter, snuggling up in front of the fireplace with a glass of good red wine…
A beautiful work of art!
Listen to ‘Opgrawings vir ŉ Lugkasteel’ HERE
Photos by Dee Lou