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Global Music Column – May

Arooj Aftab – Night Reign

Few singers can match the delicate warmth and quiet power of Arooj Aftab’s voice. Over the past decade, the Pakistani-American singer has released four albums that showcase her gossamer cadence in ever-quieter settings, from jazz to Sufi qawwalis and finger-picking folk. Her debut Bird Under Water in 2014 paired Urdu poetry with sitar and drums, while 2021’s Grammy-winning breakthrough Vulture Prince replaced percussion with lively strings, and 2023’s collaborative record Love in Exile with Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily used only synth trills and piano to create an ambient backing for Aftab’s whispers.

If she were to continue on the same trajectory, fifth album Night Reign might be so subtle as to verge on silence. Yet, across its nine tracks, Aftab presents one of her most spirited and experimental records to date, aiming to embody the nocturnal setting that provides the inspiration for her music.

Read the review in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 17/05/24]

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