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Zara McFarlane: Embodying the Spirit of Jamaica

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Zara McFarlane may have been made in Britain, but she belongs to Jamaica. The land of her mother and father is written in her soul and vibrates through her music. You can feel it in the bewitching rhythms and hear it in the socio-conscious words--both elements of reggae -that inform her distinctive version of jazz, especially on the critically-lauded collection, Arise. The London-born singer was five years old when she first went to the Caribbean island--a sort of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Zara McFarlane: Arise

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Zara McFarlane's If You Knew Her from 2014 promised much, being a wonderful, individual, mixture of jazz, reggae and soul that viewed the singer's Jamaican roots through the prism of her UK birth and London upbringing. It was an original blend that signaled the arrival of a major talent on the UK scene, setting a path that McFarlane has continued to purposefully stride down on this superb follow up. Everything about this collection has been thought through -from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Zara McFarlane: If You Knew Her

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In the current short term, fast buck, major label A&R climate Brownswood stand out like a beacon for the way that they back and develop their artists. Perhaps the different ethos comes from the top, Gilles Peterson is the label boss after all, but in any event less sensitive hands might not have allowed a talent as great as Zara McFarlane to develop after her promising, solid, yet not especially high selling debut Until Tomorrow from 2011. Peterson's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Zara McFarlane: If You Knew Her

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On her full-length follow up to 2010's EP Until Tomorrow, London-based singer Zara McFarlane perfects her blend of austere instrumentation and mantra-like rhythms supporting her rich and warm voice that owe more to Mongo Santamaria than reputedly Nina Simone or Roberta Flack. An album centerpiece, “Woman in the Olive Groves" undulates like “Afro Blue" while being able to act as its logical prelude. Backed by a traditional rhythm trio, McFarlane fulfills the potential of her subtle and muscular voice which ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Zara McFarlane: Norwich, UK, May 24, 2012

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Zara McFarlaneNorfolk and Norwich FestivalNorwich PlayhouseNorwich, UKMay 24, 2012The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is gaining a reputation as one of the finest arts festivals in the UK, one that's always willing to experiment, make use of street venues and the beautiful Norfolk countryside, and give rising stars as well as established artists a showcase. The 2012 Festival was no exception, although its jazz content seemed a little less than in recent years. There ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Zara McFarlane: Until Tomorrow

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Until Tomorrow, from young London-based singer and writer Zara McFarlane, is a delight. This is not McFarlane's first recording--her 2010 self-produced six-track EP, also called Until Tomorrow, debuted some of these songs, and she has also recorded with the Jazz Jamaica All Stars--but it's her first full-length album. Filled with fresh and beautifully crafted compositions, it signals McFarlane's maturing talents as a singer and songwriter with a distinctive take on the art of the song. McFarlane is ...