I am lucky to have grown up in a house where a variety of music played, including proper Afrikaans music. And by that, I mean the likes of Koos du Plessis, Johannes Kerkorrel, Valiant Swart and Lucas Maree. Music that had substance with clever lyrics.
As I grew older, let’s say, late teens, early twenties, I lost some interest in my mother tongue for a few years. Everything Afrikaans was too close to home and the young rebel didn’t want any of it. Luckily, around 24 I came to my senses again and started delving into the Afrikaans treasure chest. And then I found a whole new world: Piet Botha, Akkedis, Jan Blohm, Koos Kombuis…
Today, Afrikaans music is one of my big loves and I get excited when I discover new artists. This is why I was so happy when I was sent Hanru Niemand’s latest EP Kreeftegang. It is by no means a new album, it was released in 2016, but it’s never too late to discover new music.
Hanru Niemand is a singer-songwriter from the Boland who has been flying under the radar since 2003 – but not without a following! Delving into the online world, I find that he has fans throughout the country. Listening to his older music, I realise that he is a clever songwriter that often uses satire in his music to comment on life and specifically popular Afrikaans culture. Kreeftegang is his latest offering and compared to some of his other music, it is a very raw and honest album.
Kreeftegang consists of five songs. All easy to listen (and sway!) to. Considering Hanru’s entire discography, it is difficult to classify his sound, but this is definitely more of a folk offering.
After listening to the first track, I realise Kreeftegang is very much a storytelling album, each song formed around a specific narrative. The objects of the songs are not lovers or heartbreak, but rather a reporter, a poet and an old tavern. Each track is a timeless treasure that tells something about who Hanru is. Between all the noise we’re bombarded with these days, the simplistic nature of the songs stand out. It’s refreshing.
Songs ‘Pelonomi Blues’ and ‘Verslaggewer’ are faster, food-tapping songs with a beat that will stay with you long after the last note. ‘Piper’s Tavern’ and ‘Gert Vlok Nel’ are slower, with something nostalgic about it. It reminds me of careless days in the country-side with old friends, untroubled by the world’s problems. ‘Memories’ is the perfect word to describe Kreeftegang. Listening to it, I miss simpler days, though I can also see this as being the soundtrack to make new memories to.
My favourite track is ‘Gert Vlok Nel’. In fact, it took me a while to listen to the whole album, as I got stuck listening to this song at least four times. Mainly because I am a huge Gert Vlok Nel fan, but also because the song features the most beautiful words blended with the sounds of the magical harmonica.
Kreeftegang is a charming album that is filled with gems for anyone who has a soft spot for Afrikaans. It takes you on a slow journey through the colourful bends and curves of this beautiful language. I’ve read somewhere that this album is perfect for the open road, but to me, it’s equally fitting for long nights with red wine next to a fireplace.
Beautiful. A wonderful addition to my Afrikaans music collection.
Photos by Dee Lou