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Amira Medunjanin: Amulette

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Singer Amira Medunjanin's third studio album, Amulette, consists of ten Songs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia, all combining the beauty of cultural musical differences. She has come a long way since her debut, Rosa (Snail Records, 2005), recorded with Mostar Sevdah Reunion and her follow-up. Zumra (World Village, 2010), her collaboration with accordionist Merima Kljuco.

Unlike those first two, Amulette is edgier, with inventive arrangements and a lot of emotion. Producer/keyboardist Bojan Z (Zulfikarpasic) has truly outdone himself by successfully combining Sevdah and jazz with such elegance, focusing on Medunjanin's beautiful voice and never allowing the music to overwhelm it.

It is not easy to find a single word in English that can stand for the Bosnian concept of Sevdah, but it can easily be compared to the Portuguese Fado. Sevdah carries multiple meanings—love, hopeless love, endless love and a desire that chills; but in the end it's a way of life, and a narrative that tells the story of itself.

With Amulette, Medunjanin succeeds in doing what many of today's artists have not: to incorporate Sevdah in the 21st century, adding new contemporary elements while retaining its originality; avoiding frustration for the older audience of traditional music while, at the same time, engaging a new one. Together, with her team of musicians, she has showed that tradition, in a new setting, can and must be appreciated and taken care of.

Medunjanin was born in Sarajevo at a time when the popularity of traditional music in the former Yugoslavia was at high tide, and Sevdah held a special place for her. It was from her mother that she learned to sing sevdalinke (Sevdah songs); growing up surrounded by this tradition, she carries a very special emotion related to these songs. It is very easy to understand why she named this third album Amulette, and why the critics have also loved it.

Accompanied by bassist Nenad Vasilic, "Bele ruze" (White Roses), is Medunjanin's soft introduction to an album that slowly progresses to the heartbreaking "Kafu mi draga ispeci," where Medunjanin's clear emotional voice and Z's piano arrangements demonstrate the understanding between them. The similarly playful "Omer Beze" bears close resemblance to the intro of Aram Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance," but despite its gloomy theme, this may be one of the most cheerful songs on the album.

Medunjanin had spent years searching in vain to find people who shared her ideas about Sevdah and for the best way to present it. Amulette shows that, with Bojan Z, she truly has found her musical soul mate. Her singing really tells the story—not only a theme, but the strong emotions of love, sadness, desire and Medunjanin's emotional engagement, clearly present in every note.

Track Listing: Bele ruze; Zemi me zemi; Proseta se Jovka Kumanovka; Kafu mi draga ispeci; Grana od bora; Jano mori; Oj ti momce Ohrigjance; Omer Beze; Sabahzovski vjetrovi; Marijo deli bela kumrijo.

Personnel: Amira Medunjanin: vocals; Bojan Z: piano; Nenad Vasilic: double bass; Bachar Khalife: percussions; Vlatko Stefanovski: guitar (3, 7); Kim Burton: accordion (2).

Title: Amulette | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: World Village

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