Tulsa-born but Nashville-based singer/songwriter Dara Tucker has  been charming us since 2009 with her gentle introspective take on contemporary soul and jazz and her legions of fans will be delighted  to know that she’s just released her sixth full album – simply called ‘Dara Starr Tucker’ (that’s her full name, by the way).

Like most of her previous long players, this eponymous album is a collection of orignals and well-curated covers. Amongst the originals is ‘Scars’ – a song which is included twice. It bookends the album with the original mix opening the set and a softer, ‘Freedom’ mix closing down proceedings. The message in the music is clear – hurts (personal and social) inflicted in the past can be instructive; we must learn from them to be truly free. That message chimes perfectly with Ms Tucker’s new found role as social media commentator on race, cultural equity, music, and film. Over the past 18 months, she’s  amassed a combined audience of one million followers with the largest part arriving via the TikTok platform. She says: “It’s my hope that the songs would speak to others who are experiencing similar things. The TikTok platform is unique in that it has given me the opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of people — numbers that are almost unheard of in the jazz world.”

Thus songs like ‘Scars’ can be seen as part of her missionary work and the fact that they’re delivered with such clarity and quality makes them that more effective. ‘If you Ask Me’ To’ is another of the “original” highlights . It’s a punchy, fun tune with exemplary horn work from trumpeter Giveton Gelin and saxophonists John Ellis and Stacy Dillard. 

There are six covers on the 12 tracker and there is real variety amongst them. I mean, how many singers would tackle a Billie Eilish song (‘Everything I Wanted’) and follow it with a  cover of John Denver’s ‘Annies Song’? Most poignant of the covers is a tender version of  Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s classic ‘September Song’. This is simply Dara’s vocal and Mike King’s piano and the better for that. Dara also includes a gospel standard, ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee’ to show where’s she’s coming from!

‘Dara Starr Tucker’ is out now  via Green Hill Music