Jean-Marc Sauvagnargues & A Banda: Saudade

It defies neat translation, but you can feel it: Saudade, the Portuguese word at the intersection of longing, melancholy and nostalgia—with sometimes a measure of hope. When Jean-Marc Sauvagnargues and the five members of A Banda (The Band) released their 11-track bossa nova revival-renewal album a few months ago, it was an instant classic of golden age songs, nimble adaptations and elegant … More Jean-Marc Sauvagnargues & A Banda: Saudade

Coe, Peters & Smyth: The Road to Peterloo

Events buried in history can shape society long after they have faded from view. Many Britons have recently become reacquainted with a seminal chapter in their national story—the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Notwithstanding the victory over Napoleon four years earlier, Britain faced domestic turmoil, especially in the northern industrial towns; mechanization had slashed textile workers’ … More Coe, Peters & Smyth: The Road to Peterloo

Vicente García: Candela

According to legend, during the Dominican Republic’s War of Independence a certain solider abandoned his post in the midst of battle, and after victory his comrades mockingly sang ”Tomás fled with the flag” in a distinctive rhythm that became the foundation of merengue. Almost certainly apocryphal, the legend nonetheless reflects a central truth: The music style goes to the heart of Dominican culture and identity. More to the point, merengue—with … More Vicente García: Candela

Kate Rusby: Philosophers, Poets & Kings

There’s an exquisite equilibrium to Kate Rusby’s voice, at once celestial and cozy, planting a wistful note in the most comical saga and a vein of comfort in the most tragic. On Philosophers, Poets & Kings, her seventeenth solo album, the folksinger-songwriter covers a sweeping range of experience and emotion drawn mostly from her South Yorkshire surroundings—old and new tales of wine and … More Kate Rusby: Philosophers, Poets & Kings

Tsaziken: Machnaty

Like the queue outside the Louvre, the seven-woman chorus Tsaziken is a fascinating mix of disparate elements and common threads. Based in Cologne, with German and Slavic roots, on their second album they sing in eight languages and highlight a shared passion for combing the world’s cultures in search of traditional songs about love and destiny. The group ignited at a 2004 music festival when its four original singers met Raimund Kroboth, director of the … More Tsaziken: Machnaty

Wiyaala: Sissala Goddess

Candace Bushnell, creator of Sex and the City, has company. The Ghanaian singer-songwriter Noella Wiyaala opens her second album with Village Sex (video 1), intertwining music and attitude: Her outlook balances respect for some traditions (like pre-marital abstinence) with modern ideals (women comfortable with sexuality); her style blends West African folk, Afropop and arena rock. On Sissala Goddess, Wiyaala unveils a rustic 16-track … More Wiyaala: Sissala Goddess

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

Juan Luis Guerra: Literal

Juan Luis Guerra and his band 4.40 forever altered the Latin soundscape with bachata and merengue flavored by salsa, jazz and rock infusions and vivid lyrics bearing everything from magical realism and social commentary to sexual metaphor and unapologetic romance. Thirty-five years after his debut album, the Dominican singer-songwriter remains one of the most influential Spanish-language artists of all time—also a wizard, able to evoke reverent … More Juan Luis Guerra: Literal

Amira Kheir: Mystic Dance

The base camp for Mystic Dance, Amira Kheir’s third album, appears on the cover: The pyramids of Meroë, 200 kilometers (125 miles) down the Nile from Khartoum. The locale is an identity marker for the Sudanese-Italian singer-songwriter, a starting point for a musical fabric woven from classical Sudanese and ancient Nubian sounds laced with soul and jazz, rock and desert blues. On the dance-journey, Kheir, who now lives in London, visits traditional … More Amira Kheir: Mystic Dance