Carrie Newcomer: Until Now

There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life, wrote Dickens, as the simple truth. “Emergency of life” is as good a description as any to describe humanity’s plight these past two years, and few contemporary artists are as adept at unearthing simple truths as Carrie Newcomer. On her nineteenth solo album, the Indiana singer-songwriter, essayist and educator wields her warm alto, stirring … More Carrie Newcomer: Until Now

Mónica Giraldo: Hubo un Tiempo

Like ripples on the water or wrinkles in time, the songs of Mónica Giraldo’s seventh album radiate gently. Water and time, in fact, are central features of the Colombian singer-songwriter’s 10-track collection Hubo un Tiempo (There Was a Time), reflecting on the doubts of the pandemic era, the changes we weather alone or share with humanity, and the beauty and certainties that remain. While … More Mónica Giraldo: Hubo un Tiempo

Alena Murang: Sky Songs

The Earth doesn’t move beneath our feet but it does rotate, offering far flung lands with unique cultures a view of the same heavens. Perhaps this explains why Alena Murang’s songs evoke both the mystery of a faraway people and instant identification with their reverence for the sky. Murang is a Malaysian singer-songwriter and prodigy of the sape’, traditional lute of the Dayak peoples who inhabit the riverbanks and highlands of Borneo—and the … More Alena Murang: Sky Songs

Kamel El Harrachi: Nouara

Nouara is Algerian chaâbi at its best—11 evocative folk-blues songs of elusive love, nostalgia, hope and self-awareness, served in Kamel El Harrachi’s silky voice. Throughout his career the artist’s challenge has actually been his strength: Son of the pioneering singer-songwriter and chaâbi modernizer Dahmane El Harrachi, Kamel has built on his father’s monumental oeuvre, never viewing it as a shadow. His second album embraces this musical heritage … More Kamel El Harrachi: Nouara

Sarah Aroeste: Monastir

There’s an exquisite balance in Sarah Aroeste’s homage to a bygone community that lives in her heart under a bygone name. Bitola is North Macedonia’s second largest city, a place of Ottoman and Neoclassical architecture, of commerce and culture. For Aroeste’s family it is (and officially was until 1913) called Monastir, a refuge that became home: After Spain expelled its Jewish population in 1492, many migrated to the Ottoman Empire … More Sarah Aroeste: Monastir

Syssi Mananga: Mopepe Mama

The title track of Syssi Mananga’s captivating second album is an autobiographical ballad of freedom and motherhood, one concept pulling toward exploration, the other toward roots. Mopepe means “wind” in Lingala and the singer-songwriter is an amalgam of the boundaries she traverses as easily as the breeze and lineages she nourishes within. Daughter of a Congolese mother and Belgian father … More Syssi Mananga: Mopepe Mama

Teresinha Landeiro: Agora

Fado means destiny, and those who sing Portugal’s signature music explore saudade—nostalgia for what, or who, is lost and longed for. But what is the fate of fado itself? The first post-Amália Rodrigues generation of fadistas—an extraordinary cadre that includes Ana Moura, Camané, Carminho, Cristina Branco, Cuca Roseta, Duarte, Mariza, etc.—brought ample talent and innovation to keep fado fresh and enough tradition to keep it grounded. With most … More Teresinha Landeiro: Agora

Kata: 1902

The Faroe Islands are shrouded in subpolar isolation, tantalizing mythology and stubborn clouds, but their rugged terrain and spectacular landscapes are accessible to travelers, and examples of the archipelago’s fascinating culture are just a few mouse clicks away. One good starting point is the women’s vocal ensemble Kata. 1902, the group’s second album, is an extraordinary collection rooted in mystery and history, with dramatis personae remote yet somehow … More Kata: 1902

Maher Cissoko: Cissoko Heritage

The elements of contemporary music—performers, instruments, genres, modes of consumption—are at the mercy of changeable tastes and racing technology. But consider the extraordinary endurance of West Africa’s griots, musical bearers of history and lore who have kept their art relevant for more than 500 years. Likely explanations for their survival include heredity (griot status passing from parent to child); the timeless thirst for the … More Maher Cissoko: Cissoko Heritage

Rachel Magoola: Resilience – Songs of Uganda

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness: Rare is the artist who embodies this adage as fully as Uganda’s Rachel Magoola. Since the 1970s her homeland has seen military dictatorship, civil war, forced recruitment of child soldiers, an HIV epidemic, economic collapse and food shortages. Magoola addresses these serial hardships not only as a singer-songwriter but also as activist, philanthropist … More Rachel Magoola: Resilience – Songs of Uganda