One day while mindlessly navigating Facebook, I stumble upon the sound of a duo called Faye and Wren performing a song called “Sally in Our Alley” and I immediately become enamored. As per my obsessive nature, I Google and find out a few things. Wren Hinds is hardly a babe in the woods. He has extensive recording experience and a clutch of incredible albums including the aforementioned Faye and Wren album (with his wife), an album with his brother as Hinds Brothers (which I believe was nominated for a SAMA) as well as a couple of magical solo albums.

His previous solo album, A Child’s Chant for the New Millennium, is an album which left a deep impression on me. Incidentally it also contains one of my favourite songs of all time, “Signs Of Life” co-written with his uncle Keith Erasmus (a prolific writer). On his latest, Don’t Die in the Bundu (a reference to a near death experience) he works mostly on his own. Guy Buttery appears on one track  “The Garden”; Moodship appears on “The Garden” and “Gilded by the Sun, Silvered by the Moon” ; Oddo Bam plays drums on “Father” and “A Wasted Love”.  “Gilded by the Sun, Silvered by the Moon” is co-written with Keith Erasmus. Wren produced the album and did an incredible job in terms of creating a consistent soundscape. It’s a beautiful work in the same vein as the Luke Beling album I reviewed in my previous piece.

An incredible feat and a measure of this man’s impact is that Don’t Die In The Bundu was released by Bella Union (one of the best independent record labels). Their list of artists include Midlake, John Grant, Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes. Don’t Die In The Bundu contain songs that celebrate family bonds as well as the theme of being a parent. A stand-out track is “Father” (my favourite track) which contain the following harrowing lines: “This town, the place where I come from/I see it ignite, I see them loot” becomes obvious in meaning when you find out that Wren is originally from Kwazulu-Natal. This typifies Wren’s writing… he states profound things in a seemingly understated way. Once his words hit you and you get the context, you can’t help but be affected. “Chasing The River” and “Restless Child” are beautiful paeans to fatherhood. Both are astoundingly composed. “Gilded by the Sun, Silvered by the Moon” co-written with Keith Erasmus is another standout. Lyrically it enters the mystical zone and Wren’s melody just takes it into another dimension. This is a near perfect collaboration.

As I always mention in my reviews, my interest is in albums as a body of work and not just individual songs compiled for the sake of it. This album is in my top 2 of favourite albums this year. The other album in that Top 2 is Natalie Merchant’s Keep Your Courage. I am not sure which of these two will hit the top spot. That aside, anyone who takes the time to listen to this album, will be richly rewarded by the sheer depth of the songs and how seamlessly the themes of each song tie into each other. For any serious music fan my humble advice would be to go to Wren Hinds back catalogue (all solo albums have been re-released by Bella Union in beautiful vinyl format) and follow the trajectory of his work from the first album to this absolutely breathtaking work. You will not be sorry!!!