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Night Reign is the latest LP from Pakistani-American singer, composer, and producer Arooj Aftab. It builds upon her Grammy Award-winning Vulture Prince, fusing chamber folk with traditional South Asian instrumentation and jazz influences. The record is also a vivid reflection of the creative community Aftab has fostered in her fifteen years living in New York, including collaborations with artists like Vijay Iyer, Moor Mother, Cautious Clay, and Chocolate Genius.

As the title hints, these songs are all about the night. An album statement says: "Some nights are for falling in love, some are for solitude and introspection, some are to be annoyed at a forced social gathering." Lyrics touch upon love, loss, longing, and spirituality, as Aftab draws from sources as varied as 18th-century Urdu poetry and social media posts. Her vocal delivery is expressive, ranging from whispers to soaring melodies.

Tracks like 'Baghon Main' feature acoustic guitar, while 'Na Gul' builds upon harp melodies and layered harmonies. There's a reimagined version of 'Autumn Leaves', transforming the well-known jazz standard into a ghostly incantation with sparse production.

Aftab explores new sounds and writing styles throughout. 'Raat Ki Rani' uses Auto-Tune, and 'Bolo Na' features a memorable spoken word performance by Moor Mother, over an ominous bassline. Percussionist Jamey Haddad adds a stronger rhythmic base to some songs, giving the album a more groove-oriented feel.

Arooj Aftab

Night Reign

Arooj Aftab