We have been anticipating some new material from Navasha Daya for quite a while now, and thankfully the wait is finally over. Best known as the voice, front-woman and co-founder of soul/jazz/world music-melding outfit Fertile Ground, Navasha decided to pursue other avenues when the band split in 2010, but she has still been a consistent live performer and has provided guest vocals on a number of other artists’ projects. Now, with the release of her self-written, composed, arranged and produced five-track EP, Rebirthed Above Ground, Navasha is signalling her return to the recording studio, with a full album also in the works.
The EP will please fans of Fertile Ground as it covers similar ground, namely a seamless blend of soul with African/world rhythms and a hefty dose of jazz. The opening track, “Iwapele,” kicks things off with a mellow soul groove, showcasing why she is seen by many as a considerable vocal talent. With Navasha it’s all about knowing when to hold back, and when to let loose, an instinct that served her well over Fertile Ground’s varied catalog.
“Galactic Soul” ups the tempo a little, serving as Navasha’s manifesto, then things get dialled all the way down for the album’s literal centerpiece (and my personal favorite) “Prelude To A Kiss.” Here the instrumentation is stripped right back allowing her vocals to take center stage on a gorgeously simple love song. You literally feel every single word she sings, and my only complaint is that this track could double in length and I’d still want more. “Sweet Kiss” is the most jazz-orientated track on the EP and is the perfect example of why I am such a huge fan of Navasha’s voice, not only does she possess a rawness and power (albeit one we rarely get to hear unleashed on record), but she is also a technically gifted singer whose timing and phrasing are on point. The scatting towards the end of the track is just the icing on the cake.
The EP’s final track, “Life Windows,” is a slight departure from its predecessors, having more of a pop/rock vibe than the soul/jazz of the first four tracks. The song features some stellar guitar work and, of course, vocally it’s on point, but for me it just doesn’t quite gel with the rest of the EP. Despite a slight mistep on the final track, Rebirthed Above Ground is a welcome return from one of my favorite singers and I really hope the EP gets the support it deserves.
Navasha Daya Rebirthed Above Ground [CD Baby]