I met Robby Maria during a photoshooting in a Berlin studio and although packed with work to do I found him very charming and remarkably good looking. Offering me tea and coffee, water of course and not forgetting the sugar (I take two pieces). He talked calmly in between deep drags from a cigarette and reminded me a bit of a gentleman poet some 200 years ago. Very sophisticated, rather radical than compromising and absolutely present. Facts, which I hoped not to take an influence on the 13 tracks I was about to hear for the very first time in an adjoining room while the shooting continued.
As the first track of the Album is playing I am surprised. No clichés to be detected, not the slightest approach to accommodate the listener. Nothing but this calm, strong voice circling around an invisible edge and finally jumping into the abyss of “the suicide days”. What a dark song to start an album this is! First confused but more and more attracted to Maria’s unique world I found myself walking in his shoes for a while not really knowing where we were heading at. I felt comfortable and bewildered at the same time as I listened to lines like”…everyone has got a thing to hide but I am just a sick young man …” and I laughed at my own simplicity remembering that this is just a song. A strong and meaningful song, sung with this piercing and notorious voice which remotely reminded me of young David Bowie.
As we proceeded together (Mr. Maria and I) alongside of beautifully shaped songs keeping a stubborn slow pace I realized that it’s been a while since I took a walk in somebody else’s landscapes and that I should do this more often again for it always opens up my mind for new aspects in life. It crosses my mind that Maria gathered together fantastic musicians giving them spots to shine in the 13 songs on the album. Singer Meike Jürgens for instance (“No Heroes”) is having audible fun in turning the song into a vocal feast duet and saxophonist Tanya Bartels (“Miracle Man”, “The New Hope Song”) adds a “jazzy New York-in-autumn”-feeling to the enchanting “Miracle Man”. One of my favourites is “The Game” with it’s gospel-like choirs and very, very intelligent lyrics. It is an outstanding description of the situation growing out of childhood and into the world which has the potential to become a real classic song in a couple of years or decades. Maria’s voice sounds so close that you might be tempted to think you’re listening to your own inner voice.
“Welcome To My Secret Heart” is not just another singer-songwriter album, but a real chance to experience an authentic piece of originality. This is neither mainstream corrupted nor calculated songwriting, but thoughtful songs with truly magnificent melodies that will open a door to a place we almost forgot to remember. It makes us want to think about the usually neglected, hidden side of our soul. At least I had the feeling of knowing this strange man a little better before the album closes with a “Message From The Silent Sun”. (Magda Wiezcorek)