Robert Severin is a British-Hungarian, Glasgow-based, singer songwriter who has just released his debut album, Postcard From Budapest.
The album is a very personal response to events from Severin’s family history, events which are also landmarks in European history: the impact of World War II on Hungarians (several songs touching on the actions of the Gestapo); the holocaust, a woman who lived in the Budapest ghetto during the war but died on the Pan AM flight above Lockerbie in 1988; the arrival of Severin’s father and mother (not known to each other previously) in Glasgow in 1956 as they fled Hungary following the uprising; the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The inspiration for the album comes from two main sources: a postcard, presumably not sent, that Severin found in a second-hand bookshop in Budapest, addressed to a man in England with the Hungarian word for “Do you love me?” written in the corner; and also from Severin’s attendance at two song-writing courses in 2017 where multi-instrumentalist Innes Watson, member of the string quartet Innotet, suggested that the songs Severin was writing would suit a string arrangement.
Have a listen to ‘Star In My Shadow’ below which gives a sense of the musical and lyrical style of the album – acoustic guitar above the strings and Severin’s vocal, gentle while telling a tale of bravery, horror and some redemption/recognition. Jane Haining worked as a Matron in a Mission School for Girls in Budapest form 1932 – 1944, she refused to return home to Scotland saying “If these children needed me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?”. She died in Auschwitz in 1944 but in 2010 was recognised by the UK Government as a British Hero of the Holocaust.
And, in the tale and style of that track, you have this album in a nutshell: profound stories, often with a familial link to Severin, set to softly delivered arrangements. The songs and their detailed background can be found on Severin’s website. They are stories we should listen to.
Artist’s website: https://robertseverin.com
‘Star In My Shadow’ – official video: