Yungchen Lhamo: Awakening

Like a mountain wind or a force of nature, Yungchen Lhamo’s voice gracefully and powerfully opens Awakening, her sixth album, demonstrating that beauty exists to direct our attention. In a rare convergence of planetary decay and pandemic, she suggests, all humanity faces the same existential challenge, highlighting how connected and interdependent we are. Surely this … More Yungchen Lhamo: Awakening

Maja Milinković: Kaftan D’Alma

In the Age of Discovery Portugal was the starting point for explorers, but for Maja Milinković it’s the destination. Like adventurers of old, the Bosnian singer-songwriter thrives in parallel worlds, from the church where she sang as a child and the shelter where she learned guitar during the Bosnian war, to classical studies at the Sarajevo Music Academy and the pop-rock that powered her first two albums … More Maja Milinković: Kaftan D’Alma

Le Vent du Nord: 20 Printemps

Though their high-latitude homeland is more than twice the size of France, the Québécois know they’re surrounded by North America’s immense Anglophone universe and their geographic awareness has helped shape the tenacity and vibrancy of their culture. One of Quebec’s most dynamic musical forces is Le Vent du Nord, a folk band whose anniversary album, 20 Printemps (20 Springs) … More Le Vent du Nord: 20 Printemps

Dúa de Pel: Madera de Pájaro

From their formation as Dúa de Pel in 2014, Eva Guillamón and Sonia Megías lived the rarefied life of itinerant artists, flying to Buenos Aires and Beijing, to New York and Tokyo, to London and back to Madrid, performing, lecturing and giving masterclasses, observing assorted cultures as folklorists and musicians. Then came 2020: Along with all humanity, they became marooned nomads traveling only via … More Dúa de Pel: Madera de Pájaro

Barbora Xu: Olin Ennen

Like a grand journey to distant lands, Barbora Xu’s debut album Olin Ennen (I Was) is an exploration of affinities and contrasts: In her delicate-resonant voice, the Czech-born artist sings ancient Finnish and Chinese poems, for which she composes original music and accompanies herself on zithers—Finnish kantele, Chinese guzheng and guqin. Though the album’s cross-cultural view is modern, the juxtaposed elements give her songs a timeless … More Barbora Xu: Olin Ennen

Cristina Clara: Lua Adversa

The classic music genres emerged in seaside melting pots during the nineteenth century: In Lisbon it was fado, imbued with longing but often the kind that hurts so good; in Rio de Janeiro it was choro, commonly exuding joy even though its name means “cry.” Affinities aside, fado and choro (also called chorinho) are infrequently paired—and rarely so deliciously as on Cristina Clara’s debut album. With Lua Adversa (Contrary Moon), the artist ambles … More Cristina Clara: Lua Adversa

Zaz: Isa

Isabelle Geffroy grew up as Isa but went on stage as Zaz, the larger-than-life avatar of a shy extrovert who came to personify twenty-first century French chanson. Success didn’t spoil her but after her fourth album in 2018 she needed a break. “I was all Zaz, all outward-looking, with 100,000 projects,” she says. “The problem was that I wasn’t taking care of Isa.” During her hiatus she quit cigarettes, alcohol and coffee, became a vegetarian and got … More Zaz: Isa

Kandy Guira: Nagtaba

There’s no progress without struggle, and maybe that’s one reason music developed—to make the hard work less onerous, even joyful. Kandy Guira’s first full-length album captures this spirit. Nagtaba (Together) is an ebullient, activist call for solidarity, understanding, tolerance, love, equality, building Africa’s future and valuing women as agents of change. The Paris-based singer-songwriter from Burkina Faso sparkles in her own universe, having … More Kandy Guira: Nagtaba

Batila: Tatamana

At the junction of multiple roads you often see signs pointing in many directions, and Batila’s debut solo album is a crossroads of sorts. Son of Congolese and Angolan parents, he was raised in Germany and England and now lives in Berlin, but his destination is more about identity—encompassing freedom, cultural integrity and Black love—than a place on the map. His signs are esoteric but he invites us in: Batila, his name, is Kikongo for “one who … More Batila: Tatamana

Curly Strings: Pidu meis eneses & Rahu meis eneses

Art often consists of freezing moments and reassembling them in words, music, digital images or on canvas, and frozen reality is something we’ve all experienced over the past two years. The Estonian band Curly Strings took full advantage of the global timeout and the result of the band’s reflections is an album diptych: The companion covers of Festivity Within (Pidu meis eneses) and Tranquility Within … More Curly Strings: Pidu meis eneses & Rahu meis eneses