This is the one. Truly. A first-time vocal album from the late, great Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru that adds further shades of wisdom and light to a catalogue hardly lacking in such things. Recorded to cassette at home between 1977-1985, these eight songs open a world of poetic insight to Gebru's already highly evocative work, expressing years of emotional experience in glimmering tone and dancing melody. It's hard to imagine the existence of anything more purely rendered. There's no artifice or ego at play here, characterised instead by a freedom of performance that, in fact, seems to sing only to itself. Just prior to her passing, Gebru apparently expressed a keen desire for these recordings to be released and thus heard by the wider world, but it feels unlikely they were originally made with this intention. Their very appeal is contained within that truth. It's incredibly rare to stumble across performances of such effortless intimacy, where you can hear pain, loss, joy and revelation so openly communicated and shared. If Gebru wasn't singing these songs to an audience, then what exactly? The divine, perhaps? Her prominent religious life was an obvious guide for much of her work, though distinctions between secular and non-secular music mostly feel irrelevant. What Gebru fell into seems uniquely universal, spiritual but free of the doctrines of faith, always in service to beauty and truth. Not often can you say something transcends both the sacred and the profane... Best of all, you don't have to just believe me: you can find out for yourself.