Olivia Chaney: Shelter

There’s magic in Olivia Chaney’s second solo album, the how of it defying explanation but the where instructive: An 18th-century cottage on the North Yorkshire moors, no electricity, plumbing or running water; a refuge from urban noise, distraction; solitude, where she confronts the uncreative demons, wrestling with them until her inner chorus of angels emerges. Notwithstanding the sharp sense of place in her writing retreat and her songs … More Olivia Chaney: Shelter

Rachael McShane & The Cartographers: When All Is Still

Sex, death and rebellion are the stuff of tavern gossip and folk music, and they reach their fullest resonance when delivered with a healthy dose of irreverence. This is the payload of When All Is Still, a rollicking album of comedy and calamity, mischief and mayhem, by Rachael McShane and her band. Yorkshire-born and Newcastle-based … More Rachael McShane & The Cartographers: When All Is Still

Nsimbi

There is wisdom in movement and movement in wisdom. That’s an essential takeaway—and a lyrical one it is—from Nsimbi, the album and partnership of Ugandan hip-hop pioneer GNL Zamba and American singer-songwriter Miriam Tamar. Based on Swahili proverbs and the artists’ quest for cross-cultural understanding, the album’s 13 engrossing stories—performed in Luganda, Lingala, Swahili and English—bridge peoples, eras and musical … More Nsimbi

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh: Foxglove & Fuschia

Like a gentle wave, her voice rolls in, sometimes buoyantly high, sometimes achingly low. Her name may be challenging but her warm sound flows through the auditory channels and touches all the senses. Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (pronounced Murr-en Nick OWL-eve) embodies the Irish music renaissance, as a singer of the ornamental sean nós and more contemporary folk styles, flutist, university … More Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh: Foxglove & Fuschia

Namvula: Quiet Revolutions

The difference between Namvula Rennie’s 2014 debut album and her new release Quiet Revolutions mirrors the distinction between a short story anthology and a novel—on one hand a lovely collection in which each song reflects a specific musical universe, on the other an enchanting holistic sound expressing many facets of an integrated identity. The Scottish-Zambian singer-songwriter has imbibed folk, jazz, Latin, Afro-beat and traditional Zambian influences … More Namvula: Quiet Revolutions

Julie Fowlis: Alterum

The starting point is harmony between Scottish Gaelic—“spoken for over a thousand years,” Julie Fowlis observes, “yet considered otherworldly on its own shores”—and her enchanting, heaven-to-earth voice. On Alterum, she approaches otherness not only as a homegrown/uncommon language but also as a series of dimensions—a mystical plane of nearby hidden realms (magical/supernatural); proximate elements that give one another definition (land/sea) … More Julie Fowlis: Alterum

Vaiteani

A Google search of literature featuring Tahiti turns up novels by 46 authors, only one of whom is Tahitian: Most of what the world knows about the fabled island is filtered through foreign eyes. The singer-songwriter Vaiteani Teaniniuraitemoana acknowledges that some stereotypes of her home island are positive, but she sees all simplified images as reference points to be checked against experience. A good starting place is her eponymous debut … More Vaiteani

Gwyneth Glyn: Tro

Gwyneth Glyn’s elegant songs have more layers than a mille-feuille. Her images and subtexts rotate clear and dreamlike, overlaid with lyric tones of light and shadow. She touches on homecoming, remembrance, insomnia, protection and defiance—always circling back to the wonder and vulnerability of love and intimacy. Glyn sings, primarily in Welsh, in a softly commanding voice. On Tro (Turn), her songs, mostly new compositions, have a gorgeously … More Gwyneth Glyn: Tro

Carrie Newcomer: Live at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Listening Post 131. For an age of battered facts, closing doors and short attention spans, the folksinger-songwriter Carrie Newcomer is blessed with a superpower: Many talented singers can engage us and touch our heartstrings, but she has the ability, in a three-minute song, to locate and tie a ribbon around the better angels of our nature. The bard … More Carrie Newcomer: Live at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Gatehouse: Tús Nua

Seneca was the first to observe that the best way to master a subject is to teach it, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that the members of Gatehouse are all music teachers. John Wynne and John McEvoy are Irish trad veterans who have played and recorded together as a flute-fiddle duo, and Jacinta McEvoy (guitar, concertina) has accompanied both over the years. What made this Roscommon-based faculty a quartet—and allows them to add lore to their folk … More Gatehouse: Tús Nua