Malinky: Handsel

Malinky’s sixth album is a 20th anniversary gift—or handsel—to the award-winning ensemble’s fan legions and to the Scots-language folk tradition its members faithfully serve. Co-founder Steve Byrne sums up the band’s ethos: “Dig where you stand,” conveying the importance of local song, culture and history as a means of strengthening communal and individual confidence. Under that four-word banner is Handsel’s stunning detail: a two-volume, 27-song … More Malinky: Handsel

Nelia Safaie: Songs from Lands of Silence

Dawn is inevitable but some nights are longer than others. The eight songs of Nelia Safaie’s debut solo album are suspended in the fog between night and day, winter and spring, sadness and happiness. She sings gently, often with exquisite melancholy and ultimately with hope. Her poetry is both explicit and allegorical, images from one song shadowing themes from others so that everything … More Nelia Safaie: Songs from Lands of Silence

Aditya Prakash Ensemble: Diaspora Kid

Aditya Prakash describes his Los Angeles childhood as “socially American and culturally Indian” and observes that growing up the two aspects of his life were largely separate. He began studying Carnatic music—the classical vocal style of South India—at age five; by the time he was 10 he was shuttling between LA and Chennai in pursuit of his music education, and by 15 he was touring with Ravi … More Aditya Prakash Ensemble: Diaspora Kid

Mah Damba: Hakili Kélé

Individuals merge into families, families into communities, communities into nations and the generations turn. One way we make sense of life’s fabric is through art, distilling human possibility and experience into memorable form. Ancient societies had guardians of oral history but the griot caste of West Africa demonstrates unique resilience, the troubadour-praise singer-historian-genealogists of old transitioning into today’s folk musicians. In modern Mali, Senegal … More Mah Damba: Hakili Kélé

Les Cowboys Fringants: Les Antipodes

In physics, politics and romance, poles apart tend to come together. Les Cowboys Fringants are not the only musicians who explore humanity’s darker reaches with comedy and cynicism, let alone with harmony and dance-provoking chords, but they’ve been doing it exceptionally well since 1997. On their tenth album, the neo-trad folk-country ensemble offers a rousing tour of Les Antipodes … More Les Cowboys Fringants: Les Antipodes

Zäpämmät: Äiti Maa

Global and local are like yin and yang for the duo Zäpämmät. Though partners Marjo Smolander and Pauliina Kauppila are both deeply rooted in Finnish folk tradition and have degrees from Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy, Smolander also calls herself a kantele-griot, combining the iconic Finnish zither she plays and the West African musician-storytellers she emulates; percussionist Kauppila is likewise steeped in flamenco and Afro-Cuban … More Zäpämmät: Äiti Maa

Bab El West: Houdoud

Pandemic isolation can evoke images of The Little Prince, alone on his asteroid, testing the limits of confinement as he imagines transcending space. Similar fabulous journeys are at the heart of Bab El West’s second album, inspired not by Saint-Exupéry but by surrealist poet Paul Éluard’s observation: “’Frontier’ is a one-eyed word but humankind sees the universe with two eyes.” Houdoud (Border) is a natural concept for the Paris-based band whose … More Bab El West: Houdoud

Flavia Coelho: DNA

Joyce’s Ulysses, Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Hugo’s Les Misérables—often a nation’s most critical and loving assessments come from its children abroad. Add to this roster DNA, the fourth album that Brazilian singer-songwriter Flavia Coelho has sent home from Paris, 12 tracks that convey the artist’s irrepressible spirit and the insight of a penetrating novel. Like her DNA, Coelho’s style palette is a glorious mix—Brazilian and Caribbean sounds … More Flavia Coelho: DNA

The Garifuna Collective: Aban

Measured by awards, chart listings and critical acclaim, Garifuna artists have a high profile on the world music scene, even though their community numbers less than one percent of the population in the Central American countries—Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua—they call home. At the center of this small Afro-Indigenous civilization is the Belize-based Garifuna Collective … More The Garifuna Collective: Aban

Louisa Lyne & di Yiddishe Kapelye: Lust

Louisa Lyne’s art is inserting Yiddish songs into unexpected contexts. On her third album she and her band put the traditional language of Ashkenazi Jews into creative dialogue with Spanish, English, Hebrew and her native Swedish; mix period pieces with new—sometimes surprising—material; and season with klezmer, tango, jazz, Central European cabaret, Cuban and West African sounds. In Lyne’s … More Louisa Lyne & di Yiddishe Kapelye: Lust