Dobet Gnahoré: Couleur

The magic in The Wizard of Oz begins when a tornado wrenches Dorothy from her home in sepia-toned Kansas and drops her into a Technicolor universe. Something similar happens with Couleur (Color), Dobet Gnahoré’s sixth album, an exploration of women’s empowerment that emerges not from a fictional whirlwind but a worldwide crisis. Gnahoré, the first Grammy winner from Côte d’Ivoire, has spent the better part of 20 years commuting … More Dobet Gnahoré: Couleur

Tara Fuki: Motyle

Virtually all Western music comes from the same 12-note scale, so maybe it shouldn’t be remarkable that Tara Fuki— Dorota Barová and Andrea Konstankiewicz—accomplishes so much with two voices and two cellos. Across 20 years and six albums, however, fans and critics alike have expressed amazement and delight at their versatility. On Motyle (Butterflies) they are as agile as ever, blending classical, jazz and Central European folk-pop strains, and … More Tara Fuki: Motyle

Kady Diarra: Burkina Hakili

Beauty happens when an artist arranges disparate parts and pieces into a fixed space, making arresting sense of out of confusion. Kady Diarra’s third album is a cornucopia of pleasures and wisdom, reflecting her life, her homeland (Burkina Faso), her region (West Africa) and her griot heritage. Her songs, conveyed by her extraordinary voice and magnetic personality, are entertaining to be sure, but also nurturing. She is rooted and nomadic, blending the … More Kady Diarra: Burkina Hakili

Isabel Frey: Millenial Bundist

In May 2019, Isabel Frey, a singer of Yiddish revolutionary songs, landed her biggest gig yet, not in a concert hall but atop a van in central Vienna at the regular Thursday demonstration protesting the presence of the far-right Freedom Party in Austria’s ruling coalition. For the occasion, she took a pre-World War I song condemning the tsarist police, adapted the Yiddish lyrics into German and … More Isabel Frey: Millenial Bundist

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