The Land Belongs to Us
Impressive and Delicately Deep Album From North Tyneside and Given To The World.
As I’m out of touch with the bourgeoning local scene of young musicians around the North East these days; so Hector Gannet aka singer-songwriter Aaron Duff from across the water in North Tyneside first came to my attention only a couple of months ago via RMHQ writer William Graham who promoted a couple of his/their gigs.
I was immediatly engrossed with his music on YouTube and even bought his EP, INTO THE DEEP from which I played all four tracks on my radio show on the run up to Christmas.
Not really knowing what to expect this mornings’ first play was really exciting as I both wallowed in the beauty the overall ‘sound’ and trying to dissect his lyrics and stories at the same time.
The album starts with the enigmatic Emmanuel Head, a deep and almost poetic tale that showcased Duff’s beguiling Northern tones, which he barely tries to disguise. For the older generation like myself; there’s more than a hint of latter day Lindisfarne and/or Alan Hull solo work; albeit with much stronger production values and a ‘tighter’ backing band …. and that all flows like the River Tyne at high tide; through the rest of the album.
Younger listeners, of course are unlikely to have heard of either Lindisfarne or Alan Hull; unless they have access to their Grandparents record collection; so Hector Gannet will sound fresh and unlike almost anything else in their circle at the moment.
Duff has a magical way with words; which belies his tender years; City in the Sand and Last of The Buffalo are both intricately beautiful and conjure up imagery that remind me of John Lennon circa Mind Games too.
Hector Gannet is only one part of Aaron Duff’s persona; as he’s more than capable of stripping any or all of these songs back to the sinew as a solo singer and you can hear that raw honesty in The Wailing Wall where it is just a voice and a guitar taking your breath away. It’s no huge surprise to find Duff turning to the Geordie Legend’s back catalogue for a song to cover; but he hasn’t really gone for the obvious by choosing one of Hull’s solo works; the stunning Blue Murder; and the arrangement really, really does the song justice …. and is only a tiny slice of good luck away from being a hit single IMHO.
Much like one of my other favourite local acts; Lake Poets; Aaron Duff doesn’t just ‘write about what he knows’ but delves into stories from family members; which is what I guess he’s done with the powerful Waiting For The Whistle and the tragically beautiful Last of The Buffalo which is such a clever and intricate story (and arrangement) you’d think he had been doing this writing lark for twenty odd years.
I’m probably not invested enough yet to have a single Favourite Song; although I have found myself accidentally singing the chorus to Blue Murder out loud and in public! But, for these purposes I’m going to point you towards a couple of Duff’s own songs; the fabulous Eighth Day which takes us back into the Folk Rock territory of my youth, and Duff’s plaintive vocal sound will squeeze your heartstrings until your eyes bulge.
The other is the final track; and don’t think it’s there by accident as the intensely delicate Water Lilies is one of those songs that songwriters are defined by. It would have been all too easy to go out with something bombastic or even ‘catchy’ ….. but Aaron has kept ‘the best for last.’
I was impressed by that EP I bought last year; but it appears Aaron Duff aka Hector Gannet’ has ‘s songwriting has matured and grown in the intervening months; and a special word of thanks has to go out to whoever did the production and engineering for this album; as it’s rather splendid and brings out tones in Duff’s voice that I don’t expect he knew were there.
Released 27th January 2023
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