There are some critics out there – and I am, unfortunately, not one – who maintain that Damir Imamović is heir apparent to the great Bosnian sevdalinke tradition, of which his grandfather Zaim was one of the leading lights. The logic is thus: just as the old sevdah songs were laments to love foiled by conservative (Islamic) mores, so Damir – by composing songs to same sex love – which in Bosnia, more than in most parts of Europe, dares not say its name – honors the tradition while updating it at the same time. I know this is to court controversy, but I would venture to say that the real successors are, rather, Halid Bešlić and some of the newly composed Bosnian folk artists, (novokompovano narodne muzika), who Damir is an ardent opponent of. Why not Damir? Mainly because Damir lacks the common touch, singing in an introverted manner to his narrow coterie of friends and fans – as revealed here in these 11 new mainly offish tracks. This critique is not intended as a slight on Damir’s subject matter, but is rather based on an evaluation of Damir’s vocal style which is rather more demure than expressive, belonging to the so-called “closed throat” -as opposed to the more emotive “open throat” style of most sevdah singing. The World And All That It Holds does have one stand-out track, the catchy “Bejturan” (Wormwood) which juxtaposes deftly picked cümbüş (a Turkish banjo-like instrument) with soaring vocals. Sadly this sing-along tune is the only number that really takes flight.
By Robert Rigney