mon 24/06/2024

CD: Damir Imamović's Sevdah Takht - Dvojka | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Damir Imamović's Sevdah Takht - Dvojka

CD: Damir Imamović's Sevdah Takht - Dvojka

Bosnian melancholy reaches deep into the soul

Second outing from top Bosnian vocalist

Black bile, the dark blood which feeds the melancholy mood, runs through musics that resonate with the heart’s longing. In Arabic sawdah is a word which draws together the ideas of black bile and, in Ottoman Turkey, the  pain-filled desire for the beloved. It lies at the root of the saudade of Portuguese fado but also the Bosnian musical genre known as sevdah or sevdalinka.

In their second album Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht stay true to the tradition of their folk roots, while subtly playing with a more contemporary sound. They manage very skilfully to reach back to the pure form, stripping away the accordion that was so often the mainstay of sevdah ensembles, and yet refusing the temptation to fuse with blues or rock, as Mostar Sevdah Reunion did with some success.

They work instead, with a warm and intimate sound produced by Chris Eckman, with the discrete guitar and tambur from vocalist Damir Imamović, delicate percussion from Nemad Kovačić, supple and slightly jazzy electric bass from Ivan Mihajlović, and subtle but immensely potent interventions from Ivan Durić on the violin.

At the heart of this bewitching music, there is a beautiful voice: Damir Imamović, has a warm tenor, and complete mastery of the melismatic decorations which characterise sevdah vocals. It’s easy to overdo, but he bends his voice lightly, letting the microtones flow by seamlessly always at the service of emotional expression rather than virtuosic display. This is an ancient technique, which runs back to sources in Central Asia, where such singing was believed to offer a gateway to the divine, and has fed the singing styles of Iran, Turkey, North Africa, the Sephardi diaspora, Bulgaria, Greece, the Balkans, the Roma community and the Iberian peninsula.

In “Lijepa Mara”, Imamović pays tribute to the great Emira Zečaj, whose discovery by a pair of ethnologists in the early 1960s led to a revival of sevdah’s deepest roots, often no more than a voice and a saz.  Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht manage something difficult: to draw at the source while making the tradition new.

At the heart of this bewitching music, there is a beautiful voice


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters