Some Songs
(Zoya Zafar / Start Track)
Add date: 5.7.2024
Release date: 5.3.2024

Apple Music
Start Track

Zoya Zafar has Some Songs she’s finally ready for you to hear.

Zafar sings with a remarkable assurance and intimate warmth, effortlessly weaving hymns of haunting, torchy, jazz-inflected heartbreak that are minimal but never stark, lush but with plenty of space to breathe - and swoon - as needed.

Zafar, born in Lahore, Pakistan but raised in Orlando, Florida, is a self-taught musician and singer who has been writing songs and playing out locally and around Florida since her teens, earning her a diverse fanbase across underground subcultures in the Sunshine state.

Back to the matter at hand, though. Before Zafar offered up the Songs she released the single “Wordz”, a DIY slice of ambient-pop perfection released in 2023 that became a springtime playlist staple for reflective moods, reintroducing Zafar after a lengthy hiatus.

Zafar’s creative resurgence continues with the much-anticipated release of Some Songs, her debut album and a long-in-the-works follow-up to 2015 EP Spaceless Craft.

Some Songs is a collection of work written by Zafar in her early twenties and honed through careful performance through the years. The confidence and poise and unique voice in these songs place her in a lineage with the likes of Mazzy Star, Cat Power, Badly Drawn Boy, and Nico.

But the spare hymns, love letters and faint curses Zoya has been playing for years now have been fully realized, given ornate electronic flourishes, percussion and ambient washes, making for a blissful listen, no matter how heavy the heartbreak gets on songs like “Go Kiss Your Girl.”

When “To You” starts off with a snippet of Zafar’s grandmother singing, it’s almost too much, until the delicate spiderwebs of acoustic guitar, synth hums and Zoya’s whispered vocals delve into even more rarefied heartbreak. Meanwhile, the usually skeletal lament of “Tunnel Vision” is recast in a shimmer of dream-pop buoyancy, an ethereal gallop.

Some Songs was produced and mixed by Florida native Max Helgemo in Nashville and features production by close friend Gia Margaret on several songs (“Motion Sickness”, “To You”, “Clumsy”, “You Meant Nothing Too”). The earliest stirrings of the album were recorded at Gia’s Chicago home, in the spirit of their earlier collaborations.

Much of the album, though, was recorded remotely in a sign of the times, with Zafar and Helgemo sending demos and song arrangements back-and-forth. The duo originally met in 2019 when playing a backyard show together in Gainesville; they reconnected a year later during the worst of the pandemic and decided to remotely collaborate on the album. The creative kinship was immediate.

Some Songs is the culmination of years of work and craft for Zafar, who originally wanted to record and release this body of work back in 2018. But life got heavy and she had a lot of grief to process. She put music aside for a while.

“I put a pause on music and ended up moving across the world. I went through a very numb phase where I hardly even listened to music. Shortly after I developed an aggressive auto-immune disease that left me barely able to walk for three years. It also caused bone erosion in my shoulder making it difficult to play instruments.”

Indeed, the vocals for the album were recorded when Zafar was at a particularly low point: very ill, weakened and unable to walk. The days were a blur of doctor’s visits, constantly switching out medications and endless days of isolation. Luckily, she was able to find some measure of solace in music again - at long last. Some part of revisiting these formative songs is an attempt to musically crystallize a more innocent, pre-sickness time in Zafar’s life.

“Collaborating on this album felt extra special because it gave me something else to focus and look forward to and to not feel so isolated in the process.”

Some Songs is an album that kills you softly with its unhurried beauty and Zafar’s sonorous and intimate vocal whisper, before you even know your heart has broken into one million tiny but unique fragments.