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Charming Hostess Sarajevo Blues album cover
3.80 | 8 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Viva Orduenya (4:35)
2. Si Veriash La Rana (1:52)
3. War (2:39)
4. The Tunnel (4:55)
5. Imam Bey's Mosque (2:53)
6. Exodus (2:54)
7. Expulsion (0:50)
8. What Will You Remember? (3:54)
9. Grbavica (1:42)
10. Death is a Job (3:12)
11. A Relatively Calm Day (2:45)
12. Zenica Blues (4:10)
13. Open Dialogue (0:44)
14. Adam (3:08)
15. Aish Ye K'Dish (3:18)

Total Time 43:31

Line-up / Musicians

- Dan Rathburn / bass
- Yoav Klein / bassoon
- Marika Hughes / cello
- Devin Hoff / double bass
- Juliet Lee / drums
- Wesley Anderson / drums
- Ishay Sommer / guitar, electronics
- Jewlia Eisenberg / harmonium, vocals
- Tim Barsky / human beatbox
- Roy Yarkoni / keyboards
- Nils Frykdahl / oud, vocals
- Carla Kihlstedt / violin
- Cynthia Taylor / vocals
- Marika Hughes / vocals

Releases information

Tzadik TZ 7197

Thanks to Evolutionary_Sleeper for the addition
and to snobb for the last updates
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CHARMING HOSTESS Sarajevo Blues ratings distribution

(8 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)

CHARMING HOSTESS Sarajevo Blues reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is unusual album.

"Sarajevo Blues" is a book of poetry first published in 1992 during the siege of Sarajevo by Semezdin Mehmedinović, Bosnian poet. In this book Semezdin Mehmedinović tells the story of a city under siege during war in Bosnia in early 90-s, I believe for many it's difficult to believe such things could happen in Europe just less than 20 years ago!

The book was translated into English by Ammiel Alcalay in 1998 and was used as basis for this album by by Jewlia Eisenberg in 2004. Besides of that, some traditional Jewish songs from Balkans and North Africa are included as well.

Musically, this album is minimalistic,strongly based on a capella vocals, full of sadness, nerves and ... wish to live.

"War/ And nothing is going on?I go into town to beg for cigarettes I've always known your scent/but you've never been closer? It's cold in the morning, you/put my underwear on Your joy / at the packets of humanitarian aid/ makes me happy and sad at the same time. And I ask myself: where on earth do you find us coffee every night I was young and I didn't know/ that death's something a lot more common than is seems/so plain/ that anything you say about it sounds trite" " War/Back Then"

Almost fully acoustic, with vocals on English, Yiddish and Bosnian (with heavy accent, but perfectly understandable), this album is not a urban folk or Balkan folklore. This music is universal, and even if it uses many folklore elements, it sounds more NY downtown influenced by sound (still very Bosnian by atmosphere though). Formally this album could be tagged as avant world fusion, but it's really a bit more. Lyrics and atmosphere there are extremely important element.

"I'm running across and intersection to avoid the bullet of a sniper from the hill when I walk straight into some photographers: they're doing their job, in deep cover. If a bullet hit me they'd get a shot worth so much more than my life that I'm not even sure whom to hate: the Chetnik sniper or these monkeys with Nikons. For the Chetniks I'm just a simple target but those others confirm my utter helplessness and even want to take advantage of it. In Sarajevo, death is a job for all of them. Life has been narrowed down completely, reduced to gestures?a man covering his head with a newspaper as he runs across the same street, scared of a sniper's bullet" " Death Is A Job"

I believe this is very special album. I spent many days in Sarajevo, Mostar,even Srebrenica, and I feel this music by my skin. Possibly, just one listener of thousands could feel the same, but I believe many of listeners even without such background could feel that deep emotional field radiating from this music. In all cases, not the album for entertaining.

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars Which describes this better: Avant-progressive rock featuring members of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum? Or Klezmer and Traditional music with lots of great vocal harmonies, influences from various other genres, and beatboxing?

Umm, both?

For sure, this album sits closer to the second description and the use of the word "Rock" to describe this music feels ill-advised from the beginning. But such considerations are irrelevant, because this is definitely a musical album - bandleader Jewlia Eisenberg presents her vision strongly and concisely. She is surrounded by a surprisingly high number of musicians, given how much space there is in the music here.

The music is largely lead by voice - both in the vocal harmonies, lead vocals, and the beatboxing present on a lot of tracks (I wasn't joking about that point above!). There's a great ethnic edge to this thanks to the use of various traditional musics.

While voice is the predominant force on the album, the instrumental accompaniments are superb, enhancing the melody and mood of the album. Listen to the guitar and the violin on Tunnel - they create space for the music, emerging to emphasize the mood and the words. Superb!

A fair portion of the album (from The Tunnel to Zenica Blues) are part of the "Sarajevo Blues" part of the album. This album is based on a book of poems by the same name, based on the Bosnian Siege. This is a time when civilians would often be shot at by snipers - a concept that is important in two tracks, Death Is A Job (which asks the question: who is more evil, the sniper shooting people, or the photographer who tries to get a picture of it happening?), and A Relatively Calm Day (Snipers are in action / only a few have been killed / we're informed a relatively calm day has passed). For sure, this is the section of the album with the most punch and the most emotion to it.

The remaining tracks are split between a two other sections: The first two tracks are traditional Jewish songs, and the last three are labelled as Poem songs.

Great album, check it out!

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