Jazz as a genre can often be dominated by tradition, by a respect for the standards.
It's rare, then, to find a young artist with a potent voice they can call their own. A graduate from London's Guildhall music school, Zara McFarlane is steeped in the history and mythology of jazz - but not at the expense of her own unique vision.
Debut album 'Until Tomorrow' emerged in 2011 via Brownswood, matching nu-soul appeal with the flexibility and dexterity of spiritual jazz.
A socially conscious artist, McFarlane's blossoming songwriting tackled Big Topics in a manner which was both personal and immediately accessible.
Since then, the London born artist has continued to blossom. With her reputation spreading, Zara McFarlane went back into the studio, recruiting a host of collaborators to accompany her next step.
Set to be released in January, new album 'If You Knew Her' is a confident progression. Containing eleven tracks, all but three are original compositions which draw heavily on the singer's own life.
'Open Heart' benefits from a spare arrangement, with Zara McFarlane's voice floating above gently etched notes. Overlaying vocal parts to create something akin to a choral effect, the technical aspects of McFarlane's performance are matched by a tenderness, an emotional appeal which you can't quite avoid.
Listen to it now.
'If You Knew Her' is set to be released on January 20th.
The new issue of Clash magazine is out right now. It's always on the money with breakthrough acts worth listening to. So, go and see.