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Love knows no bounds: a phrase as old as time but never truer than in the love story of Faith and Branko. The songs on Gypsy Lover chronicle the couple’s journey together since 2009 – Branko away from the darkness and illness that had surrounded him in life and Faith towards a love and perspective that would change her entirely. This is a collection of silken songs, woven with romance, seamed with traditional Balkan and Roma sounds and embroidered with punchy first-person commentaries on the challenges of an Anglo-Serbian marriage in today’s political climate.
Our tale begins, romantically enough, underneath the flickering festoons and tented towers of a circus. Faith was working with traditional English troupe Giffords Circus as an all-singing all-dancing accordionist act. Her creative cause took her to the Balkans to seek a local Romani violinist to join the circus’ next tour. Fate and fortune led her path to the Serbian village of Grabovica and to the violin maestro Branko. Without a shared language with which to communicate, the two friends played and composed music for three months – passionately, but purely platonically. Faith returned home and for the next two years continued her separate musical career – touring, playing, performing across the world. Yet something niggled, a sense of unfinished business, a sense of love lost but never quite had.
As Branko grew older, his problems had intensified, reaching a point where he tried to take his life – he was not able to care for his diabetes as he should and would go to the woods and pray for God to help him find a way out of his darkness. He never lost the goodness of his heart and the infinite beauty he felt in God and his violin; and when Faith finally returned to Serbia, this love and gratitude were poured into their light-hearted composition ‘Fa Di Do’. The song ‘Gypsy Lover’ details the couple's mixed emotions two weeks into the relationship - Branko strong in his belief that his prayers had been heard but unwilling to draw Faith into a situation that he felt she would grow to regret; Faith falling fast for her beau but hesitant to commit to what she predicted could be a very complicated partnership.
Their love and their music held them together. They lived together in Serbia through a minus thirty-degree winter, cooped up inside the house writing music all day, getting to know each other, experiencing their cultural differences. It was a time of simple young love and creativity, but also of insecurity surrounding their future – visa restrictions forced them to spend periods of time apart and embark upon a four-year struggle before they could live in the UK together. ‘Valjevo’ is their diary entry from this time. Branko’s pre-existing health problems were worsened by the biting cold and times were hard. On this track, lamenting violin dances with surging piano pirouettes before Faith’s vocal takes centre stage. Branko’s violin tone, all split-notes and throaty tessitura, closes the emotional elegy.
The date for a wedding was set. Jannah, who is like a sister to Faith, came to visit as remembered in the song ‘Sister’. This largely raucous track riots with breakneck tempo, topsy-turvy accordion and a fire-cracker violin solo. Jannah arrived in the midst of an intense and seemingly crazy time in the local village but supported Faith, whom she could see was madly in love. The wedding was a traditional affair complete with pony trap and boisterous Balkan brass band and Branko, defying the curses put on him to never marry, made it from the hospital on the morning of the wedding to stand beside his bride.
Today Faith i Branko are proud to present their debut album to the world. This couple’s love has overcome the odds: their honest music speaks their story.