La Mòssa: a moss’!

Based in Avignon, the women of La Mòssa are polyphonic and polyglot; they have varied music backgrounds (jazz, folk, rock, roots), they tell stories old and recent, true-to-life, fanciful and surreal, describing marriage and courtship, evoking wars, witches and mermaids. There’s an elegant coherence to it all, as if they carry a world of lore in a small purse—labeled “roads women have traveled” and closed with a clasp of attitude. What binds all the facets … More La Mòssa: a moss’!

Nella: Voy

People on three continents paid to see Nella Rojas sing on stage even before the launch of her splendid debut album, but her first post-release show had a captive audience—passengers on an Iberia Airlines flight from Madrid to Lisbon. Intentional or not, the airborne concert (everyone on the plane got a free CD), was an apt metaphor for a song collection focused on the interval between life’s departures and arrivals, between nostalgia, hope and … More Nella: Voy

Romano Drom: Give Me Wine

Millennials, baby boomers, GenX and Z—today’s vocabulary suggests that each generation is a world unto itself, with distinct attitudes and values. Romano Drom’s Give Me Wine is all about generations, but in the classic sense of culture transmitted from parents to children, from antiquity to the twenty-first century. The Budapest-based band was founded in 1999 by the late Antal Kovács and … More Romano Drom: Give Me Wine

Tuuletar: Rajatila/Borderline

Tuuletar’s debut album introduced vocal folk hop, a performance style of a cappella harmony, beatboxing, gesture and movement that filtered the natural world through Finnish mythology. Listening to Rajatila (Borderline), the group’s second album, is—for want of a better analogy—akin to reading Ulysses: It’s experimental, challenging, brilliant, but instead of the tranquil … More Tuuletar: Rajatila/Borderline

Carminho: Maria

The song Sete Saias (Seven Skirts) describes the women of Nazaré, Portugal, who traditionally wore multiple layers on the cold beach where they waited for their husbands’ fishing boats. The only piece of small-town folklore on Maria, the song may at first glance seem like an outlier. But the skirts serve as a perfect metaphor for Carminho’s elaborately layered fifth album. Is the titular Maria the singer—full name Maria do Carmo Carvalho Rebelo de Andrade … More Carminho: Maria

A-WA: Bayti Fi Rasi

In Genesis, Rachel leaves Haran with her large family and reaches the Promised Land before dying in childbirth. In modern times, the Rachel who often declared Bayti Fi Rasi (My Home Is in My Head) was a single mother who left the land of her birth—transported in an airlift that took 50,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel in 1949-50—trading oppression in one country for hardship in another. Multitudes remember the biblical matriarch, but if a family is a … More A-WA: Bayti Fi Rasi

Otava Yo: Do You Love

There’s more than a touch of Gogol in the Russian ensemble Otava Yo: There’s humor, symbolism and archetypal characters that serve as anchors for artistic brilliance. Group leader and co-founder Alexey Belkin explains that the band’s work reflects “not so much folklore as a twenty-first century attitude toward folk music,” brought to animation in layers of respect and self-parody, with instruments that run from traditional zithers and pipes to worldly violin … More Otava Yo: Do You Love

Yapunto!

Colombia ranks second in the Americas for forest cover and second worldwide in overall biodiversity, but the country is paying an unexpected environmental price for peace: The 2016 accord between government and guerrillas made more land accessible to exploitation, and as a result deforestation has increased dramatically. Government, community organizations and NGOs are battling to protect the trees; meanwhile, every popular movement needs … More Yapunto!

Carrie Newcomer: The Point of Arrival

In a recent social media post, Carrie Newcomer described an unexpected layover at O’Hare Airport: In a comfortable Starbucks booth she opened a book, but didn’t get much read because of a barista singing mini arias. “He was obviously a trained vocalist,” she wrote, “and a seriously fine baritone …. singing out orders in soaring melodies, lattes and … More Carrie Newcomer: The Point of Arrival