Sunday, January 19, 2014

Zara McFarlane - If You Knew Her (2014)

Listening to Zara McFarlane's new album you can't help but thinking that she is 21st century Alice Coltrane or Nina Simone soaked up in London drizzle and with a warmth in her soul that these fine ladies somehow lacked. In her follow up to that absolutely marvelous ep from 2010 (on heavy rotation in the TJ headquarters ever since) Until Tomorrow, and she's already broken away from any comparison to any other artist whatsoever. See for example how she appropriates Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves moving it into the new millenium and giving it more space to breathe and a whole new context (I'm thinking about the London riots here but it just might be me) to be associated with.
There are tracks in this record destined to become modern classics. Angie La La featuring Leron Thomas on vocals trumpet is one of them, a jazz zen love song equal to the best work of say an Abbey Lincoln god rest her soul.
The Games We Played and Spinning Wheel are so heartbreakingly gorgeous that could become pop hits if we lived in a perfect world where melody is still valued. Woman in the Olive Groves will simply send trad jazz enthusiasts into heaven, Open Heart is probably the most accesible of the pack, a lyrical love song, intimate and radio friendly (cherish it now before it gets snapped by ad agencies).
Verbalisms aside, this is Zara at her most potent, fragile, melodic and purely beautiful

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