Minnie is a fantastic songwriter, possessing that Leonard Cohen gift of translating moving poetry into easy love affairs with cabaret pop. He started out with that whole Letterkunde 2.0 thing, putting the Afrikaans poets to music. But soon enough, his own pen found paper and a powerful lyricist was born.
“My stem is ‘n loopgraaf waar jong soldate lê / En binne elke stilte lê die bom wat als moet sê”: indeed, it’s tough to make sense of your own songs, to sell them to the world. But Minnie’s smoky, enunciating voice is a more-than-suitable vessel for his delicious verses. Given a theatre, a crowd and a grand piano, there are very few stories he would not be able to tell.
Like Cohen, he does slip on the odd banana peel. “Southern lights” is another English song by an Afrikaans performer that doesn’t cut it. Enough said. There is one other song, “Ek sit alleen”, where Minnie is overpowered by the heady emotional cocktail he tries to pour, or vice versa perhaps; he seems much less comfortable as a Josh Groban than as a Herman van Veen.
But his pose is never broken for long. “Rietfontein”, “Asem”, “Langpad”: these are monologues, stories as much as they are songs and they bear repeating many times over. The mood of Nagmusiek is perhaps best described by Minnie himself: “Jy weet hoe dit voel as die lug oor jou spoel / En die son soos ‘n bal tussen wolke val / As die reën soos ‘n kind in die straat rinkink / En die stilte in jou soos ‘n blom ontvou”.
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