For the past decade, Zara McFarlane has caused ears to perk up at the sound of her effortless and intricate vocal work. Critics and fans agree that the Bounce-Worthy jazz singer has mastered the art of interpretation – a skill that particularly comes in handy as she delivers a new collection of music entitled Songs Of An Unknown Tongue.
The album, her fourth offering under Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings, finds Ms. McFarlane delving deeper into her roots; a jazz-adjacent journey that began with her 2017 record Arise. While the latter explored her Jamaican heritage with reggae-tinged arrangements, Songs Of A n Unknown Tongue peels back the innermost layers to reveal a rich tapestry of sound woven together with the folk and spiritual traditions of Jamaica in relation to its African motherland.
South London based producers Kwake Bass and Wu-lu help Zara create a world of syzygetic sonacy as diasporic ritual music collides with island rhythms and futuristic sounds. Album opener "Everything Is Connected" sets the tone, both musically and thematically, hinting that this is not a project to be consumed piecemeal. Whether personal tunes like "My Story" and "Saltwater," or cultural tributes like "Run of Your Life" and "Roots of Freedom," each track is equally important to this captivating narrative.
Get immersed in Zara McFarlane's Songs Of An Unknown Tongue by downloading a copy of this lovely collection for your playlists. Afterwards, keep up with the singer via her website, Twitter and Instagram.