English jazz singer McFarlane opens up into her debut full-length with grace and no shortage of space to open up into. Working with a stellar band over ten originals and one cover of Junior Murvin's "Police & Thieves," McFarlane reveals herself and her band as a quiet but serious force to be reckoned with. In particular, the Murvin cover venn diagrams somewhere between Pharoah Sanders' spiritual soul-jazz and Van Morrison's flowing, tumbling Astral Weeks ensemble, all shrouded with the muted tension of a Nina Simone session. While the originals swing, they take root in the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane and McCoy Tyner, leaning towards Tyner's lyricism rather than Coltrane's percussive mantraisms. Occasional vocal harmony and half-time rhythmic arrangements recall R&B crossover, likening McFarlane, again, to a present day Simone. Vocally, however, McFarlane probably couldn't be less like Simone, achieving a sweetness miles away from Simone's ideas of romance and when she does become menacing, it's more subdued, more sensual. A fascinating debut.
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