In their home country of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Divanhana have been playing to sold-out audiences for more than ten years. So it’s high time that the ensemble also found a larger audience in this country! On their sixth album “Zavrzlama”, the quintet around the powerful-voiced singer Šejla Grgić once again succeeds in combining the traditional sevdalinkas of their homeland with modern sounds ranging from pop and jazz to new classical music. With a good dash of temperament, of course. For the first time, the musicians’ own compositions can be heard here, after they had previously mainly reinterpreted traditional material. This is a sign of the band’s increased self-confidence.
Sevdalinka is a love lyric that goes back to the 16th century and is close to the Portuguese form of sadness, saudade. The term goes back to the Turkish word “sevda” for love. Often the mood is melancholic: no wonder when singing about unrequited love! The sevdalinka is considered an essential part of Bosnian culture. The style is often called “Bosnian blues” by music connoisseurs.
Live, Divanhana are a force of nature, complete with volcanic Balkan-style outbursts of temper, which, by the way, harmonises perfectly with the melancholic intimacy of the sevdalinkas. One of the highlights of their career is the album “Live in Mostar”.
Divanhana like to think outside the box and have collaborated with the popular Turkish singer and actress Suzan Kardeş, among others, in recent years. Highlights of their career include an artistic collaboration with US musical star Bradley Dean. So this is how the Sevdalinka got to Broadway for the first time!
Divanhana have even used the enforced Corona isolation for a new project: The “Quarantine EP” was largely recorded on the smartphones of the individual band members while the musicians were scattered across six different cities in their home country. Thus, Divanhana made the best of the pandemic situation with limited resources.
“Zavrzlama” was still recorded in Slovenia in February 2020, just before the first lockdown. The album was mixed in Sarajevo in June 2021. The hauntingly reduced album opener “Na Kuslatu Se Mahrama Vihori” shows Šejla Grgić at the height of her abilities and skilfully keeps the balance between intimacy and latent threat. The lively “Cilim”, on the other hand, invites you to dance, while “Peno” bows to the legendary Roma singer and songwriter Saban Bajramovic, one of the “wildest talents” in Tito-era Yugoslavia. “Opa Opa”, on the other hand, from the pen of the well-known Serbian composer Radivoje Radivojevic, lives entirely from Šejla Grgić’s seductive voice and surprises with palatable Latin piano and horn sounds. “Voce Rodilo” and “Zova” were both written by Divanhana keyboardist Neven Tunjic, who thus confidently ranks himself as one of the most exciting young songwriters in the long tradition of Balkan folk music.
Year of Release: 2022