If You Knew Her by Zara McFarlane on Apple Music

11 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

London-based singer Zara McFarlane stands out from the crowded field of young singers in the global jazz scene; she writes much of her own material, an all-too-rare asset among jazz vocalists. As with her first album, her second effort is an earthy blend of slow to midtempo post-bop tunes that are stripped to their very essence with piano and/or bass carrying the songs on their own. When she does add in drums and horns, the tension of those taunt arrangements are cathartically released; “Her Eyes” sounds positively lush in a piano trio setting. She also adds elements of African music (“Open Heart”) and Caribbean music (a cover of Junior Murvin’s reggae classic “Police and Thieves”) that further the stark spell she weaves. Other standouts include “Plain Gold Ring” (with a fine guest turn on trumpet and vocals by Leron Thomas) and a dramatic, outward-leaning sax solo on “Woman in the Olive Groves” by Binker Golding. It all points to a rosy present and future for this promising singer/composer.

EDITORS’ NOTES

London-based singer Zara McFarlane stands out from the crowded field of young singers in the global jazz scene; she writes much of her own material, an all-too-rare asset among jazz vocalists. As with her first album, her second effort is an earthy blend of slow to midtempo post-bop tunes that are stripped to their very essence with piano and/or bass carrying the songs on their own. When she does add in drums and horns, the tension of those taunt arrangements are cathartically released; “Her Eyes” sounds positively lush in a piano trio setting. She also adds elements of African music (“Open Heart”) and Caribbean music (a cover of Junior Murvin’s reggae classic “Police and Thieves”) that further the stark spell she weaves. Other standouts include “Plain Gold Ring” (with a fine guest turn on trumpet and vocals by Leron Thomas) and a dramatic, outward-leaning sax solo on “Woman in the Olive Groves” by Binker Golding. It all points to a rosy present and future for this promising singer/composer.

TITLE TIME
4:43
3:33
5:58
3:36
6:56
1:20
4:25
7:37
3:59
5:12
6:49

About Zara McFarlane

Born to Jamaican parents in Dagenham, England, rich-voiced jazz vocalist, composer, and producer Zara McFarlane grew up listening to reggae and R&B. At the age of 14, she made her first appearance on television when she performed a Lauryn Hill song on the program Stars in Their Eyes. She attended the BRIT School, the University of West London's Tech Music School, and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she developed her love for jazz. Her first recordings were done with house act Bopstar. A six-track debut EP followed in 2010, but she didn't gain a significant amount of attention until BBC DJ Gilles Peterson signed her to Brownswood and released the album Until Tomorrow in October 2011. The refined contemporary jazz set earned her a MOBO (Music of Black Origin) nomination. Her follow-up, the more varied If You Knew Her, was released in January 2014 and led to a MOBO win in the category of Best Jazz Act. A deeper exploration of Afro-Caribbean sounds informed Arise, issued in September 2017. McFarlane has also recorded and/or performed with Denys Baptiste, Nicola Conte, Jazz Jamaica, Soweto Kinch, Orphy Robinson, and Louie Vega. ~ Andy Kellman

  • ORIGIN
    Dagenham, England

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