Bosnia’s Amira Medunjanin is blessed with such an astonishingly rich and emotive voice that all else can seem to slow down when she sings the hauntingly beautiful songs of her Balkan homelands.
On her fourth studio album, Silk & Stone, Amira again performs traditional songs from Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Croatia and Montenegro. This time, though, there is more going on.
While her previous work perfectly showcased Amira’s pristine voice across a range of classic sevdalinka and revealed an interest in working with jazz as well as traditional musicians, Silk & Stone presents a performer who has grown significantly in confidence and standing.
Amira is at the top of her game
Amira is at the tops of her game. And off the back of this assured album, she will only get even better.
This ten-track collection of songs conveys an honesty and conviction in the Amira’s delivery of wonderfully fresh arrangements of some well-trodden Balkan songs, reworked with respected jazz pianist Bojan Zulfikarpašić and bassist Nenad Vasilić.
As a singer who can stand alongside the greats, including the frequently name-checked Billie Holiday, Amira has found a confidence that can even embody the space between the sounds. In her singing, she is not pressured by the often-melancholic lyric, but rather allows space and time to anticipate her next note and so imbues each song with a vulnerability, intensity and profound longing.
Emotional intensity and intimacy
Amira and Bojan eschewed overdubs in favour of a natural recording that captures the emotional intensity of their numerous acclaimed live performances and the result is a triumph. The recording is pristine, the production is confidently minimal and Amira’s vocal is beautifully intimate, delivering an intimacy that is truly breathtaking.
At times, Amira’s voice, which can be both vulnerable and knowing, has such clarity that she could be stood in the room beside you, while listening through headphones is an experience that is simply jaw-dropping.
Songs such as Kradem ti se u večeri (Bosnia), Eleno kerko (Macedonia), Iz banjo ide šejtan devojče (Serbia), Telal vice (Bosnia) and Ima Dana (Vojvodina) stand out as highlights, although the 50+ minutes go back all to quickly.
Nothing here is overdone or overplayed. No note is exaggerated or stretched more than is called for by the song, no instrument is over produced.
This is a recording made by artists who are comfortable with each other, confident of what they want to achieve, and who realise the alchemy that is at play when they come together. They capture a moment in time and make it sound so easy.
Silk & Stone is nothing short of brilliant.
Currently available only in the Balkans, the CD will be released across Europe later in 2014. Amira is currently on tour.