Zara McFarlane – Arise (3 stars)

Zara McFarlane – Arise

British singer continues a classy exploration of jazz and African-Caribbean music

On her third album, British singer Zara McFarlane continues her exploration of jazz and African-Caribbean music, aided by producer-drummer Moses Boyd, saxophonist Binker Golding, and man-of-the-moment Shabaka Hutchings.

Arise opens with the hand drums and horns 'Ode To Kumina', a short tribute to the kumina tradition brought to Jamaica by indentured workers from the Congo. McFarlane's honeyed vocals contrast with Goldings' gutsy saxophone on 'Pride'. Her style is more poised on the luscious reggae of 'Fussin' and Fightin' and the Latin inflected nu-soul of 'Peace Begins Within'. Hutchings contributes clarinet to the reflective 'Silhouette', tootling sensitively over shimmering organ and graceful piano. McFarlane follows up her 2012 cover of Junior Murvin's 'Police & Thieves' with a stately take on the Congos' roots reggae masterpiece 'Fisherman'. Rather than attempt to recreate the original's otherworldly rasta vibes, McFarlane recasts it as dubwise gospel.

A classy celebration of black British music.

Out now on Brownswood.

Zara McFarlane

Mainstream jazz and soul singer.

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