Iberi: Supra

High ground is supposed to be secure, but Georgia’s perch in the Caucasus Mountains hasn’t kept out invaders—from Romans to Russians, with other empires in between. Still, time seems to be on the country’s side. Georgians have a winemaking tradition going back 8,000 years and a heritage of polyphonic singing that predates their fourth-century adoption of Christianity. Wine, music, history and dedication to homeland all merge on Supra … More Iberi: Supra

Elif Sanchez: Mi Voz

Art and life merge in the luscious voice of Elif Sanchez, and her second album offers the privileged listener an international voyage, no passport required. Her music rests on a traditional foundation of family and schooling: Born Elif Cakmut in Istanbul, she grew up singing Turkish and Azerbaijani folk songs with her mother, had a classical conservatory education, learned oboe and English horn, played in a symphony orchestra, studied jazz … More Elif Sanchez: Mi Voz

Imarhan: Aboogi

Imarhan’s third album takes its name from the dwellings the Tuareg band’s forebears built in their first permanent settlements—and it derives added meaning from the modern shelter they erected in Tamanrasset, in southern Algeria near the borders of Mali and Niger: After two albums produced in France, in 2019 the quintet started work on the first recording studio in the oasis town where they grew up, and Aboogi is the first album to … More Imarhan: Aboogi

Oumou Sangaré: Timbuktu

Once a center of trade and learning graced by canals and mango trees, Timbuktu languishes today, a victim of poverty, desertification and war. As political decay spreads, Oumou Sangaré sees the legendary city as a symbol of her beloved Mali—how it lost its way and how it might flourish again. Sangaré is one of her country’s leading singer-songwriters—however broken its politics, Mali is still a music superpower—and her path from poverty … More Oumou Sangaré: Timbuktu

Lenka Lichtenberg: Thieves of Dreams

If poetry is a lost art, Lenka Lichtenberg’s latest album is a welcome reminder that what is lost can also be found. In 2016, the Czech-Canadian Jewish singer-songwriter was in her native Prague, sorting through the belongings of her mother, who had just passed away; opening a drawer she discovered two worn notebooks filled with poems her grandmother, Anna Hana Friesová (1901-1987) … More Lenka Lichtenberg: Thieves of Dreams

Blaumut: Olímpica i Primavera

Einstein, Dalí and Descartes walk into a bar… No, this isn’t the full story of Blaumut’s fifth album but it suggests the ambition, gravity and splendor of 10 songs that peruse the relative positions of heavenly and earthly bodies in real, surreal and fictional terms, from an eternal we-sing-therefore-we-are viewpoint. Seriously playful, the Barcelona-based band has always seen entertainment as … More Blaumut: Olímpica i Primavera

Marjan Vahdat: Our Garden Is Alone

At the foundation of Our Garden Is Alone lies a rift between body and soul. Though Marjan Vahdat lives in California her heart is in her native Iran: Whenever one part of her is in daylight the other part sees only the night sky. Her songs carry fierce sorrow and glimmers of hope, suspended between clarity and ambiguity. Are expressions of love aimed at a person or at a country? Does the … More Marjan Vahdat: Our Garden Is Alone

Roberta Sá: Sambas & Bossas

Long story short: During a university semester break in 2002, Roberta Sá successfully auditioned for Fama, a talent show on Brazil’s TV Globo. A four-week stint in the national spotlight landed her a manager, leading to her performing a song by Dorival Caymmi for the soundtrack of a prime-time telenovela; her first album contract soon followed. In the succeeding years Sá became an icon of MPB … More Roberta Sá: Sambas & Bossas

Divanhana: Zavrzlama

The title of Divanhana’s sixth album is a Bosnian word meaning “knotted,” a refreshing departure from overused terms like “fusion” and “blending” to describe music that unites diverse elements. Based in sevdah (sometimes called Bosnian blues), the Sarajevo-based band’s wonderful tangle encompasses the Balkan, Turkish and Sephardic strands from which the style was woven in the sixteenth century, the jazz, classical, Latin and pop elements they add … More Divanhana: Zavrzlama

Nour: L’élégance des mots crus

Are the words Nour refers to in the title of her fourth album elegant because they are raw, or because they are believed—or is it both? From the lyric ambiguity we can’t be sure, and that seems to be the elegant point. The album represents catharsis, the artist asserts, a coming to terms with romantic misfortune, and her resilience can be seen in every corner, from the post-rupture breakup metaphors (great void … More Nour: L’élégance des mots crus