Release Date: Apr 27, 2015
Record label: Naim Edge
Eska Mtungwazi is often presented as ‘the best singer you’ve never heard of’ – but for those in the know, this debut album has been a long time coming. Her work with Matthew Herbert and Tony Allen (amongst others) introduced her as an inventive and original singer able to glide effortlessly through a variety of musical worlds. Her own projects have been distinctive and compelling (notably the English Skies concert series, with its thoughtful development and expansion of folk music concepts).
Though the Lewisham-raised Eska will be a new name to many, she has spent a decade working as a session singer for the likes of Tony Allen, Matthew Herbert and Grace Jones. Her debut album, five years in the making, attests to the Londoner’s versatility, drawing on everything from psychedelic soul to folk infused with the spirit of Kate Bush. The hypnotic opener, This Is How a Garden Grows, moves at its own leisurely pace through history, evoking a half-cut Erykah Badu.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. In an interview last year, the singer and multi-instrumentalist Eska Mtungwazi described an exchange with the composer and producer Matthew Herbert in which he had laid down the challenge for her to 'go away and write music that sounds like what it feels like for ESKA to be alive today. ' Until recently, ESKA had made a living out of writing songs for others and appearing as a guest vocalist on tracks, working with breakbeat production heroes Stanton Warriors, celebrated British-Indian composer and songwriter Nitin Sawhney, Noughties chillout duo Zero 7, US vocal artist and arranger Bobby McFerrin and the Jamaican singer, model and Bond villain Grace Jones.