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

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