There’s someone looking. After years of isolation and crises, even war, there is no need for easy answers – but perspectives, paths, departure. Herbert Grönemeyer searches with his music. The result is easy on the ear, is sometimes powerfully danceable. 13 songs, an album that is long by its standards, mark the musician’s multi-layered view of interpersonal feelings and the needs of society as a whole. The title acts as a hint: “That’s going on” is there.

Questions about questions from the past years

“I’ve never experienced a time like the last three years at the age of 66. None of us,” says the singer. He immediately delivers the resulting questions: “What do you write then? What’s there? How do you think, how do you feel? What do you have to tell? Do you have anything to tell at all? How are your fears? How skeptical are you? How optimistic are you?”

Art such as music is “already there to take fears seriously and at the same time to formulate a perspective”. For this Grönemeyer has retreated to a house in Umbria together with producer Alex Silva. He compares it to the situation of a painter: “At first you sit in front of a white canvas.” But then. “This Italian way of life, such an airy cheerfulness, that quickly helped us to get started.”

The songs now mark a hilly landscape between human feelings and harsh realities, a lot is still in the fog, but some perspectives can already be seen. The piano ballad “Tau” describes happiness and togetherness: “We divide the forces”. In the opener “Deine Hand” Grönemeyer sings about hope that is “just so hard to find”. But there is also someone who gives it, “the support that I so urgently need in order not to break”.

An album full of joie de vivre

Musically, Grönemeyer drifts through his landscapes. The album becomes a journey through time with echoes of early Kraftwerk rhythms (“Herzhaft”), 80s rock (“Genie”) or 90s pop (“Das ist los”). Driving beats (“Oh Oh Oh”) alternate with electro (“Angstfrei”) or hip-hop sounds (“Turmhoch”). There is also a lot of joie de vivre in it.

An expression of this joie de vivre can be dancing, which Grönemeyer took up in several songs. “It’s not for nothing that all cultures dance, children dance, because they immediately notice that they’re in a completely different mood,” says the artist. Dancing is elementary to become carefree, “a wonderful vehicle to just get all the rubbish out of your head for a while”.

As a musician, he describes “this crazy privilege” for himself: “I go on stage, play a concert and people are happy about it. I can push people to get moving.” The first tour after long years of pandemic starts on May 16th.

Grönemeyer can also fall back on a song about migration and flight with “Der Key”. “Home is not a place, home is a feeling, origin,” he says. “But of course it’s very clear: Where do I feel safe and in which community do I feel safe? That’s a concept of home that – if you use it very carefully – interests us all.” Grönemeyer sees a lot of necessary solidarity. “People here are trying to offer refugees a new kind of home with the possibilities they have. We are a strong community, which is why we are able to offer protection to so many people.”

Strong women

Strong women always determine parts of the album. “The rebellion of women in Iran, Afghanistan and all over the world in recent years has really shaken us and is important: We recognize enormous power, an unconditional radicalism for female and humanistic issues and the fight for real freedom and it’s about time that the seen everywhere and things change forever,” says the singer.

“No diamonds without pressure” sings Grönemeyer in “Turmhoch”. How did he find the way to his songs? “The pressure for me with this album was enormously high. I think that’s also part of the tragedy of old age, that the pressure we feel is getting higher and higher. So are the demands on oneself.” However, expectations also come from outside. With “Das ist los” Grönemeyer has recorded his 17th studio album. So far, eleven of them have been in first place.