Postcard from Budapest, Robert Severin’s debut album, explores the legacy of his Hungarian heritage and its connections to his home, Scotland. Robert’s parents met in Scotland, as refugees from the Hungarian uprising, in December 1956, marrying just three weeks later. They moved to London where Robert was born. Robert met his Scottish wife in Budapest in 1989 as the Iron Curtain was about to fall.
His father’s love of music made a significant impact on Robert as a child. He pursued a career in special education, throughout which his promotion of music in his schools was a constant feature. Since his early 20s, Robert has been writing his own songs and performing them solo, and in duos and groups, in the UK and overseas. His songwriting has covered a range of rock, pop, and folk.
In 2017, Robert attended two residential songwriting courses. The first was tutored by Sir Ray Davies, the second by Boo Hewerdine and Findlay Napier. On the second course, Robert met Innes Watson, an acclaimed Scottish multi-instrumentalist. During one of the workshops, Robert presented his song, Red Shades of Blue, to the other participants. Innes suggested that it would suit a string arrangement by his quartet, Innotet. This inspired and committed Robert to realise a long held ambition to produce an album of original work.
Robert and Innotet recorded four songs together in May and December 2018 at GloWorm Recording in Glasgow, engineered by Andrea Gobbi. The album opens with Red Shades of Blue, which was inspired by a postcard from 1936 that Robert found in a second hand bookshop in Budapest. It is followed by songs that draw upon destiny shaping events and courageous individuals. Half of the collection draws upon the links between the histories of Hungary and Scotland. He felt compelled to tell the stories of compassion, courage, altruism, and unwavering humanity in the face of tragedy and unimaginable inhumanity.
Robert relates these biographical snapshots in both narrative and lyrical forms brought to life by his affecting melodies. He has also included songs about his own family in this collection. Robert’s compositions, four of which are complemented by Innes Watson’s elegant and captivating string arrangements, have drawn comparisons to the music of Nick Drake, Jacques Brel, David Sylvian, Brett Anderson, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles and the Hungarian balladeer, Tamás Cseh, among others.
Robert had been invited to perform his album at The Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest for its Hungarian debut in the second half of 2020. It is hoped that it will be possible to hold the event once circumstances allow.
Robert is currently engaged on a mentoring programme at the Songwriting Academy, UK, and is working on a number of projects in collaboration with other songwriters from around the world.
Postcard from Budapest was released through Birnam CD and all major digital platforms on February 28th 2020.