Most of Prince Royce’s career as a singer and songwriter has been dedicated to bachata, but with an open window letting in subtle flavors from outside. The Bronx-born son of Dominican parents, Royce has released albums in Spanish and English, switching back and forth with a dexterity undoubtedly fueled by the mental proximity of parallel vocabularies. On his fifth studio album, a collection of solo and duet love songs (mostly in Spanish), his … More Prince Royce: Five
Bob Dylan warned the Establishment that a raging battle would “soon shake your windows and rattle your walls/For the times they are a-changin.’” Five decades later, If I Was President, the signature protest track from Las Cafeteras’ new album, is likewise animated by the idea that anyone can imagine the power to repair the world: “Mr. President, I’ve come to make clear/That I don’t have the papers to work over here,” it begins, proceeding to a priority … More Las Cafeteras: Tastes Like L.A.
Among Claire Lynch’s many talents is an uncanny ability to embody a man’s song—her angelic voice not imitating the opposite sex but simply erasing the importance of gender. She memorably personified a Civil War soldier in Kennesaw Line and on her latest album she’s a deckhand-turned-ship’s captain who spends 50 years with the love of his life, the Molly May (video 1). The song—written by J.P. and Gervais Cormier—is bittersweet, like any story … More Claire Lynch: North By South
In the Peruvian rainforest where Ciro Hurtado grew up, the sun peaked through the tree canopy and radio brought musical breezes from neighboring countries and around the world. Though he has lived in the United States since he was 20, Hurtado has spent his life as a guitarist and composer creating his own hybrid habitat, with an abundance of musical species—Andean folk, classical, jazz, blues, flamenco, among others—fusing into a magical echo/ecosystem. On his newest album … More Ciro Hurtado: Selva
No one leaves a Holi Festival gathering looking the way they did on arrival. The highlight of the spring rite celebrating the triumph of good over evil is friends, family and strangers throwing colored powder and water on one another. The many-hued observance is a centerpiece of Navaratna (Nine Gems), Ila Paliwal’s album devoted to India’s multicultural festival calendar—nine holiday-named compositions based on classical ragas and a mix of traditional and western instruments, plus Paliwal’s … More Ila Paliwal: Navaratna
Francesca Blanchard’s debut album is rich in the contrasts on which art thrives—connection/solitude, wisdom/experience, anxiety/uplift. As for the form/content duality that animates critics, she offers a soft and stunning voice and incisive lyrics, carried aloft by a blend of folk and French chanson, accented with jazz, country and pop touches. At the album’s heart, the two visions—more complementary than contrasting—reflect the tension and creativity of Blanchard’s bilingual life (French … More Francesca Blanchard: Deux Visions
Kacey Musgraves is a traditional country singer driven by a honeyed voice with a Texas twang. She’s also a progressive in a conservative world, penning lyrics about marijuana, acceptance of homosexuality and questioning of religion. She’s won two Grammys and three CMA Awards while defying labels, and on her fifth album she focuses on small town values and foibles, on family, community and individuality. Biscuits (as in mind your own) is a bouncy live-and-let-live classic … More Kacey Musgraves: Pageant Material
Keali’i Reichel is a pillar of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance. In addition to being a singer, composer, dancer and choreographer, he has taught Hawaiian culture and language, curated museum exhibits, founded a hula school and was a founding director of a Hawaiian-language immersion school. Kawaiokalena, his eighth album, is suffused with poetry and enchanting melodies, but like a good novel, film or painting it also has a powerful sense of place … More Keali’i Reichel: Kawaiokalena