Hear Zara McFarlane’s new album, ‘Songs of an Unknown Tongue’

The British singer explores her Jamaican heritage and the country’s folk traditions.

British jazz singer Zara McFarlane has released her fourth studio album, Songs of an Unknown Tongue.

The record, which comes three years after her last LP Arise, is the result of McFarlane’s own extensive exploration of her Jamaican heritage and the country’s folk traditions. Working with South London producers Kwake Bass and Wu-Lu, McFarlane sought to recreate the “pulsing, hypnotic rhythms [of the folk traditions of] Kumina and Nyabinghi—and the music played at African rooted rituals like the emancipation celebration Bruckins Party, and the lively death rites of Dinki Minki and Gerreh,” per the record’s Bandcamp description.

One standout on the ten-track record is “Black Treasure,” which stemmed from conversations McFarlane had with academics in Jamaica about the British Empire’s colonial-era slave trade and exploitation of many countries around the world.

Listen to that song and the rest of Songs of an Unknown Tongue here:

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