Vaiteani: Signs

Imagine an archipelago, nine islands sharing a common culture but each welcoming visitors with a sign indicating its singular stories and features: One isle is focused on dance, another on flowers, others on music creation, parenthood, kisses, and the embrace of everything and its opposite. This is the universe Vaiteani paints on their second album, elements that begin separately and merge into creations greater than the sum of their parts. This is also … More Vaiteani: Signs

Héctor Valentín: Me Quité

More than coffee or summer rain, Cuba is drenched in music. It emanates from bars and homes, along Havana’s Malécon, from the streets and squares of cities and towns, from the public buses that weave through the countryside. Along with the merging of European and African traditions that produced a cornucopia of genres, the island’s perpetual soundtrack helps explain why Cuba is a music superpower. Héctor Valentín occupies one of the highest perches … More Héctor Valentín: Me Quité

Tania Saleh: 10 A.D.

“Human justice is like ice/Melts with sunrise/Give me the ney and sing/Singing is the justice of hearts.” The Lebanese singer-songwriter Tania Saleh put these words by her countryman Khalil Gibran to music in 2017. Now she is back with her seventh album, and an intensely personal take on justice. In the 90 years since Gibran’s death, many nations have gravitated toward his feminist views—but not his homeland, where gender equality is the victim of … More Tania Saleh: 10 A.D.

Ann O’aro: Longoz

The longose is an invasive species that suffocates other vegetation. On her second album, Ann O’aro likens the tree—which flourishes on Réunion, her home island—to traumatic memories that smother the spirit. Symbolism is the latest step in O’aro’s personal-artistic arc: Her 2018 debut album was a stunning exercise—and exorcism—in scorched-earth blues, confronting childhood rape by her alcoholic father, who committed suicide when she was 15 … More Ann O’aro: Longoz

Duarte: No Lugar Dela

Duarte has three defining missions: “I am married to psychology but fado is my lover,” he says, referring to his clinical practice and his art. And though he has a sterling reputation as a fado singer he is also a lyricist-composer, creating tension between his customary genre and his multivalent vision as a Portuguese cantautor. These revolving identities are all at play on his fifth album, No Lugar Dela (In Her Position), an exercise in empathy … More Duarte: No Lugar Dela

Tanya Brittain: Hireth

Hireth is Cornish for a species of nostalgia, akin to the Portuguese saudade, that expresses insatiable yearning. On her first solo album, singer-songwriter Tanya Brittain comes magnificently close to quenching this singular thirst. Across 10 tracks she captures pregnant moments on the brink of change; waltzes us back to lost golden ages of song, from the English Renaissance to the 1960s folk revival; and promotes a language that’s been on the precipice of extinction … More Tanya Brittain: Hireth

Elida Almeida: Gerasonobu

Elida Almeda’s fourth album is a story of Cape Verde, a portrait of the generation of artists following in the footsteps of the great diva Cesária Évora, and the saga of one singer-songwriter, raised by a single mother in a house without electricity, navigating between tradition and the global winds that have always swept her archipelago nation of sailors and migrants. If the scope of Gerasonobu (New Generation) is ambitious, the performance is stellar, rising on … More Elida Almeida: Gerasonobu

Frank London: Ghetto Songs

It’s not news that great music emerges from dire circumstances, but bravissimo to Frank London, composer, trumpeter and co-founder of the Klezmatics (among myriad exploits) for his new album, a breathtaking journey through the ghettos of history. In 2016, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venice Ghetto, Beit Venezia, an institution dedicated to the lagoon city’s Jewish culture, invited London as an artist-in-residence … More Frank London: Ghetto Songs

Sigrid Moldestad: Tonen i meg

We all have strengths and frailties, multifaceted personalities and lives, good and bad days. On Tonen i meg (The Tone in Me), Sigrid Moldestad, the Norwegian singer-songwriter-musician, joins forces with Sigrid Moldestad the playwright to explore, shake and sing the inner human riddles that mold identities and worlds. Contrasting colors rotate on her musical landscape, light emerging from darkness, power from timidity, beauty from sadness—or vice versa … More Sigrid Moldestad: Tonen i meg

Rodrigo Costa Félix: Tempo

Fado and Portugal combined are like a reversible garment: Display the banner of one on the outside and the other side touches your heart. And if the music expresses the Portuguese soul, perhaps no artist expresses fado in as many ways as Rodrigo Costa Félix. In a 30-year career he has recorded albums, performed in fado houses, on television and concert stages and won the coveted Amália Rodrigues Foundation Award for Best Album in 2013 … More Rodrigo Costa Félix: Tempo