Zara McFarlane has, over the last decade, established herself as a one of the leading voices within the legendary London jazz scene. Album after album, she has been able to bring a new, innovative and incredibly soulful sound that captures so much raw and utterly beautiful energy that it’s impossible not to be enamored by her music. She is back again with a brand new album titled Songs of an Unknown Tongue, produced by South London legends Wu-Lu and Kwake Bass. It’s a sprawling, electronic and soul album that brings influences from jazz to hip-hop. Throughout the 10 tracks on the album, Zara McFarlane is able to evoke powerful emotive melodies through her incredible, soothing voice, coupled with a tribal, frantic and energetic soundscape. This makes Songs of an Unknown Tongue an evocative, soulful and spellbinding listen.
With the moody, electronic opener “Everything Is Connected”, Zara is able to channel such a beautiful, reflective tone, with a thumping beat that has an incredibly infectious groove. “Black Treasure” is another rhythmic and reflective track, as Zara McFarlane navigates through a soulful, incredible beautiful soundscape. The raw and tribal drumming of “My Story” is just incredible, as her reflective lyrics about life and love are poignant and stunning throughout. Wu-Lu and Kwake Bass do an excellent job at capturing her soulful and utterly mesmeric voice through instrumentals that sound raw, tribal and incredibly rhythmic and dynamic. The heavy drumming on “Broken Water” pulsates through the crisp instrumental, complementing her soothing vocals. The atmospheric and angelic “Saltwater” is a definite highlight to me, while the rhythmic and highly energetic “Run of Your Life” is menacing with its tone. “State of Mind” is a sprawling, rhythmic masterpiece, with a beautifully textured sound, combining tribal percussion, incredible synth leads and powerful vocals throughout. The incredible drumming and guitar leads on “Native Nomad” are stellar, while “Roots of Freedom” is to me the best track on the entire album, with a textured, rhythmic and jazzy sound backed by a dub influenced beat. Zara sings “We are the roots of freedom, freedom within our hands!” as the tone of her voice fits perfectly with the heaviness of the groove and beat of the track. “Future Echoes” closes the album off with a beautifully melodic and drum-heavy melody that is soft and utterly beautiful. Lyrically she talks about black empowerment, spirituality and relating all that back to her ancestral motherland, Jamaica.
Songs of an Unknown Tongue is an incredible body of work that feels raw, intimate and utterly beautiful. Wu-Lu and Kwake Bass’ incredibly textured and groovy soundscape allows for Zara McFarlane to sing effortlessly about love and life, reflecting on her own experiences while simultaneously looking into the future. An amazing body of work indeed, so go and support!
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