It’s always a treat when artists continue to share their work with us, and such is the case with singer-songwriter Jelena Ćirić, who returns with a new single release today. Produced by Icelandic label, Paradis Sessions, “Rome” is also the first track off her forthcoming “Shelters Two” EP, which follows her 2020 “Shelters One” EP (featured on GDW), and was awarded ‘Folk Album of the Year; at the 2021 Icelandic Music Awards. Jelena was also nominated as ‘Best Female Vocalist.’
These past two years have taken their toll on all of us to some degree, and while many of us feel we are back to normal (for the most part), that’s not everyone’s experience. Jelena shares that the pandemic led her to deeply question whether she should continue making music at all. “Making music is a completely illogical pursuit, especially during a pandemic. But if you’re a musician at your core it’s the only thing that makes sense; you’re unhappy when you’re not doing it,” she explains. “And despite its challenges, when I manage to connect to others through my songs, that’s the ultimate reward.”
For Jelena, “Rome” is an expansive ballad on fleeting relationships and the timelessness of the human experience. “I sometimes joke that it’s about Romulus, Remus, and Tinder. It asks the question: ‘What was dating like in Ancient Rome?’ Despite how the world has changed, I suspect that our inner lives are very much the same as peoples were thousands of years ago.”
Granted, ancient Romans didn’t have Tinder – that is purely a digital age ‘human experience’ – however, I agree that “Rome” highlights the short-lived romance which surely transcends the pre-and-post dating app eras. What makes this single even more dynamic is that it’s so beautifully executed, one could assume it was a love song if not listening carefully to the lyrics. I was fascinated by Jelena’s layered, captivating vocals and instrumentals, with verses alluding to a short-lived fling in an effort to romanticize the notion: “The heart was still / The flesh was fed / I’m grateful though I didn’t say it then / Don’t call again.”
Of course, Rome is the city of ‘Amore’ so we should expect nothing less than succumbing to our desires to follow the path to what we determine is our own version of “Rome.” Jelena succeeds in driving home this very essence of human nature: “If all roads lead to Rome / God help us all / When Rome starts to fall,” which, to me, reminds us that our individual quest for love is built upon what we make of it. That we will all experience love in our own ways, and we can only hope it withstands the test of time.
Photo Credit: Juliette Rowland. Video directed by Mr. Silla.