A few months ago, Toronto indie folk newcomer His His—the moniker of singer-songwriter and guitarist Aidan Belo—shared “Matador”, a cozy, fluttering tune that centers Belo’s soothing vocals and intimate guitarwork. Now Belo follows up the track with “Winter Journal,” a similarly wistful, understated folk number, premiering below.
“When the sun sets down / You know how it’s been,” Belo sings in the opening verse, nodding to changing seasons. “When the leaves fall down / You know how it’s been.”
“‘Winter Journal’ was written when I moved back to my parents’ farm, north of the city,” Belo tells American Songwriter over email. “It was inspired by looking through the notes of an old journal which I had written in last winter. The song was recorded in the empty space of an old wood barn on the farm with a simple setup of my guitar, a few microphones, and myself.”
Belo’s voice hovers above a whisper when he asks, “Do you ever wonder about your last lover? / Do you ever fall in love with things that don’t matter?” His themes are time and pain and healing: “Do you ever wish sometimes that you could be younger? / Do you ever hope that time will let you recover?”
“This song was about a time of reflection and being able to look at things a year after they had happened,” Belo explains. “The song itself is open to interpretation, but the main message perhaps is realizing that time is often the best medicine.”
For Belo, the moniker His His serves as a reminder of his deeply personal approach to music. “His His was an alias that I wanted to use for this project because it is the first time I had gone and done something like this by myself,” he says. “Writing the music and recording is a process that I’ve been able to do on my own accord and the music and lyrics are something that are extremely personal and at times a reflection of myself.”
The Schomberg, Ontario native cites Nick Drake, Adrianne Lenker, and fellow Ontario folk outfit Timber Timbre as inspirations. Both “Nick and Adrianne’s music is something that is minimal in its arrangement and performance, has intricate guitar playing, and is very much something that is extremely personal and emotional,” he says. “Timber Timbre’s music has an ethereal and haunting charm to it that I really enjoy and find really unique.”
Belo’s music exudes its own charm, more wandering and mellifluous than ethereal or haunting. Now, based in Toronto, Belo has spent the last few months “finishing up my degree in English literature” and “trying to write as much music as I can.”
When he needs a break from city life, he returns to the place where “Winter Journal” was born. “I’m lucky to be able to go home and spend time on the farm when I have time to,” he says. We’re lucky for that, too.
“Winter Journal” is out Jan. 12. Keep track of His His here.