The singer of the Berlin-based group Super700 Ibadet Ramadani has released her first solo album. Ten timeless songs about love, identity and belonging amaze with their sincerity, purity of sound and elegance.
During the ten years since her band broke up, Ibadet Ramadani focused on her family life and on being a theatre actor, singer and musician, while toying with the idea for her first solo album. She then wanted to find out whether music could still speak to her outside of the theatrical setting and moved into a cabin in the forest.
In the seclusion of the forest, the melodies just flew out to her. She wrote the songs for her new album on an old nylon guitar that she had owned since her childhood. There, in the wilderness, in a place unknown, that’s where the antennae go up for anything creative. “Just to take a look and see,” was the premise, says Ibadet Ramadani, “without pressure, without expectations, I took my nylon guitar, went into the forest and waited to see what would come. And something did come. Songs came to me of their own accord.”
Part of childhood in Kosovo
Ramadani spent part of her childhood in Kosovo; so she’s no stranger to horror stories, magic and the collective rituals related to birth, marriage and death. Topics that she keeps playing with again and again – and clearly enjoys doing so – on her album. In “Sleep My Child”, a lullaby for her daughter, the nightmare is in the air, monsters are manicured and dragon tails are shortened.
She produced the album with her partner, musician Martin Gallop, who opened up the space for Ibadet’s voice with a great deal of sensitivity and delicate feel for the arrangements. At first, this space seemed large and unstable to her, but then she found a way to fill it all up with her singing. With sincerity and sensitivity, in search of something that lasts.
The album takes you into the world of the singer’s thoughts and memories. It works so well because it is composed and arranged to the point. No note is wasted, everything is at the service of the atmosphere and a mood that encourages contemplation. Whether reduced to the piano, guitar and drums, or with grand orchestra sound. The album is also thematically timeless, revolving around the classic singer-songwriter themes.
Songbook about the human condition
Ibadet Ramadani’s solo debut album is both a reflection on her family and an intimate songbook on the human condition. It is about things that seem strangely familiar to us and yet are universal in nature. It reflects on experiences that most of us have and one of them is fear – the key theme of the lead single “Forest”.
“Forest was written in a lonely cabin in the woods. In the song, I describe what happens when I’m alone in the forest for days on end. The unfamiliar surroundings, the background noise, everything changes and suddenly there is a new experience. What causes the noises is skilfully hidden in the bush or in the treetops and the fear of the unknown, but also of what is hidden within us, creeps up on us: the fear of getting lost in your own forest, from which you can no longer find your way back.”
For example, the light and airy pop song “Pink Balloon”, which sounds like summer and ice cream, deals with the almost unbelievable story of her uncle who has endured much hardship in his life.
“Miss My Daddy” is the result of a songwriting session that was hijacked by her daughter, who couldn’t get to sleep and kept repeating the words that became the title of the song. What can be read as a nod to the unpretentiousness of old folk and country songs takes on surprising twists – perspectives change and new alliances are forged. The daughter’s lament turns into a song with her mother, the father figure increasingly disappears from the picture.
In “Sharrad”, the death of her father is mourned by 50,000 men who stand on the shores of his kingdom and bid him farewell before his transfer to the realm of the dead. A surprising farewell for a man who came to Germany from Kosovo in the 1970s as a guest worker and spent his life working to provide for his family.
Musically, the album is most reminiscent of Americana, while being very unintrusive, yet very intense and simply classically beautiful. Ibadet Ramadani has not gotten much notice from prestigious music servers, which is regrettable. However, we will do our best to bring her heartful recordings to you in the “Album of the Week” segment of our broadcast.
NMR (foto: press Ibadet Ramadani)