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

Noa: Letters to Bach

No composer has motivated more artists to adapt his work than Johann Sebastian Bach. Remixing began when eighteenth-century orchestras deployed pianos in pieces JBS composed for clavichord and harpsichord; it continues today with jazz, folk and blues iterations, among others. But arguably no one has channeled Bach so audaciously—or lyrically—as the Israeli singer-songwriter Noa (Achinoam Nini). She describes Letters to Bach, her eleventh … More Noa: Letters to Bach

Daoirí Farrell: A Lifetime of Happiness

When Daoirí Farrell sings, time slips away and a powerful sense of place takes over. Tales of romance begin not in a car or—heaven forbid—on social media, but typically when two people out walking meet on an Irish country road, and where a random tweet is not a meme but an avian sound. With his third solo album, Farrell solidifies his reputation … More Daoirí Farrell: A Lifetime of Happiness

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