There will be light at the end of the tunnel is the recurring theme and text for Zahara’s most honest and personal album yet, Nqaba Yam.
Much like the fiery red dress she dons on the artwork for her anticipated fifth offering, Zahara is the ray of sunshine that many have yearned for amid a global pandemic. Her latest body of work serves as a pick-me-up.
The soothing, healing and soulful melody of the 12-track album, paired with introspective lyrics ooze newfound confidence in Zahara’s distinct voice. Her aura is effervescent and light as air. She’s letting her masterful guitar skills do all the talking while taking listeners on a sonic stroll in a botanical garden.
Her new music is fresh and organic. It’s evident in every delicate and soft note that she belts out that the Eastern Cape country girl has found her nirvana. Zahara has also spiritually connected with her faith and found solace in God’s mercy.
Praise and worship with Zahara
With 10 years in the ever-evolving music industry, multiple South African Music Awards (Samas), over 400 000 albums sold and 366 000 Instagram followers; Zahara has nothing more to prove.
She instead welcomes us into her castle and introduces us to her pillar of strength – God – throughout her trials and tribulations.
Penning down every song on the album, Zahara reunites with producer and longtime collaborator Mojalefa “Mjakes” Thebe.
Titular track Nqaba Yam is the perfect album opener and set the tone quite well. Straight off the bet, she lets listeners know that this is the gospel Zahara away from the glitz and glamour. She has given all her trust and hopes to the man upstairs. This song is a classic Zahara Afro-pop banger from the instrumental to the piercing vulnerability in her velvety vocals.
With a modern country guitar intro, Sinda Mphefumlo reminds us that Zahara is still unapologetically a country girl at heart. In this journal entry, she is fighting both her internal and external demons – her heart and soul are heavy.
Keeping with the country motif, Ndikhona has the potential of a Zahara anthem written all over it. She creates a mystery and keeps the listener guessing if this is a love letter to a friend or lover. But what’s clear is that Zahara has never sounded this good and felt such tenderness. So much so that she will make all the time in the world for such fondness.
Zahara makes a holy plea to God with an emotionally charged Ndincede. She has been in the trenches. A lot of unpleasant things have been said about her and she needs all the strength in the world to pull through it all. Her voice has never sounded brilliantly exposed and authentic.
Bawo is the first taste of Zahara in full gospel mode as she seems to start connecting with her faith and leaving it all in the Lord Almighty’s capable hands following her prayer request in the previous cut.
Halfway through the album, Zahara switches it up with Systems and she shows that she is woke as she fights social injustices. Long story short, Zahara is a freedom fighter. It’s a stripped-down acoustic guitar number – exquisitely simple and elegant.
Fresh off making her political statement, Zahara gives a throwback to Sophiatown with Ntak’encinane. The mid-tempo tune displays a more fun and dancey Zahara for the first time on the album. The feel-good song will have you snapping your fingers and kicking up your heels in euphoria.
Senzeni has a maskandi vibe to it and is the most intense song on the album. It’s a female empowerment chant dedicated to victims and survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). Bring out the tissues!
Nyamezela is a stand-out track and very radio-friendly. This is a song for everyone with a relatable and strong message of resilience and courage. No mountain is too high with God by your side. The beat is electric, making it a road-trip banger with your windows rolled down.
Forgiveness is what Zahara preaches in Izolo, another mid-tempo song. Zahara nudges that holding onto grudges is never good for anyone – forget the pain of yesterday and focus on the promises of today.
Dust off your dancing shoes and get ready to make love to the dance floor. Forever Yours is all the way up in tempo with a throbbing beat that demands that you lose your mind and morals. It says put me on repeat, full blast and sing along.
Zahara bows out with a message of hope for all the dreamers with Iphupho Lam. She was destined to be great. She is royalty and with God by her side, she will continue on her trajectory to the top.
Nqaba Yam is available now for streaming and download.