Divanhana: Zukva – Sevdah from Bosnia’s Finest

divanhana3Apple of My Eye

Listening Post 69. The zukva is a sour Bosnian apple that can’t be transplanted but blends well in hybrids. On their third album, the members of Divanhana use the apple is an apt symbol of their music—sevdalinka—urban Bosnian folk woven from Balkan, Turkish and Sephardic strands. Adding to the blend, the band grafts brass, piano, bass and drums onto traditional accordion and the enchanting voice of Leila Ćatić. Sevdalinka typically conveys love’s passion and suffering—often expressed in the meeting or averting of eyes—although the songs can be exuberant as well as downbeat. Oj Safete, Sajo Sarajlijo (Hey, Safet from Sarajevo) is a story of hidden romance: “I’ll take you to my home, where our song will peal out,” sings a boy, eliciting the response, “Take me home now, Sajo, let our song peal throughout” (video 1). Emina concerns a beautiful girl drawing water in a garden, as seen by an ardent suitor who can’t get her attention—the tale told from the perspective of history: “The poet died, Emina died, the garden emptied/The ewer broke, the flowers withered/Emina’s song goes on forever” (video 2). In Ciganka sam mala (I Am a Gypsy Girl), an entertainer sings to her admirer: “When I look into your eyes, I forget all sorrow/The heart wants one thing/The mind yearns for another” (video 3). Sejdefu majka buđaše (Sejdefa’s Mother Wakes Her) is a lovesick lament: “Do you think, mother, that I’m asleep?/I’m parting with my soul/Call my first love, whose eyes met mine/On a boat out at sea” (video 4). Zukva is a feast of eyes, stirring to the ears—and one can only wonder about the taste of those hybrid apples. (ARC Music)


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