Home Read Albums Of The Week: Arooj Aftab | Night Reign

Albums Of The Week: Arooj Aftab | Night Reign

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Night Reign is the followup to Grammy winner Arooj Aftab’s critically acclaimed album Vulture Prince. As the title hints, Aftab makes the night the focus of this nine-song LP. Entirely in her own voice and through her own story, she delves into the multifaceted, bold and fascinating realm that comes to life after dark. Some nights are for falling in love, some are for solitude and introspection, some are to be annoyed at a forced social gathering. So go the stories of Night Reign.

The album features new friends like Cautious Clay shredding on flute, Moor Mother echoing Aftab’s sentiment of how cruel the world is, and Chocolate Genius aka Marc Anthony Thompson lending his tender sensibilities to a song about being grounded. Longtime collaborators Petros Klampanis and Maeve Gilchrist also continue their musical partnership as core members of Arooj’s musical family. The resulting new music again showcases Aftab’s striking ability to build a thing of beauty from distinct elements. Night Reign is a clear departure from tradition or the reinvention of ancestral music. It’s a reflection of Aftab’s 15 years living in New York City and her unapologetic commitment to stay true to herself. With open-heartedness, candour and wit, Aftab lets us get even closer to her.

The first single Raat Ki Rani serves as a regal introduction to the world of Night Reign. “Raat Ki Rani’ is about a person whose allure, magnetism, and charisma floats through a beautiful evening garden party,” Aftab says. An infectious rhythm (closely related to the Brazilian maracatu) drives the song forward. Aftab’s voice (teased with autotune for the first time) provides an evocative vision of this “queen of the night” aka Raat Ki Rani, the intoxicatingly fragrant, night-blooming flower with which the track shares its name. “Interaction with the queen of the night feels unthinkable,” Aftab suggests. “Sometimes we must be content with an exchange of glances.”

Vulture Prince spurred a cultural shift and helped move music rooted in South Asian tradition into the larger conversation. The album cast a wide net for admirers; everyone from Elvis Costello to Barack Obama found a part of themselves in Vulture Prince. It would go on to earn Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Global Music Performance, with a win for the latter (making Aftab the first Pakistani artist to win a Grammy). The following year, Udhero Na, a collaboration with Anoushka Shankar from Vulture Prince Deluxe, netted Aftab a second consecutive Best Global Music Performance nod. In the three years since her major label debut, Aftab has continued to wow fans and critics globally. She’s played festivals including Coachella and Glastonbury. Last year, she teamed up with Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily for Love In Exile, which netted two Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Jazz Album and Best Global Music Performance, and won the Edison Jazz 2023 award in the Global category.”