Tanya Brittain: Hireth

Hireth is Cornish for a species of nostalgia, akin to the Portuguese saudade, that expresses insatiable yearning. On her first solo album, singer-songwriter Tanya Brittain comes magnificently close to quenching this singular thirst. Across 10 tracks she captures pregnant moments on the brink of change; waltzes us back to lost golden ages of song, from the English Renaissance to the 1960s folk revival; and promotes a language that’s been on the precipice of extinction … More Tanya Brittain: Hireth

Frank London: Ghetto Songs

It’s not news that great music emerges from dire circumstances, but bravissimo to Frank London, composer, trumpeter and co-founder of the Klezmatics (among myriad exploits) for his new album, a breathtaking journey through the ghettos of history. In 2016, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venice Ghetto, Beit Venezia, an institution dedicated to the lagoon city’s Jewish culture, invited London as an artist-in-residence … More Frank London: Ghetto Songs

Céline Banza: Praefatio

Céline Banza’s voice is so utterly captivating it seems to eliminate emotional distance, merging melancholy with hope, grievance with comfort, artist with audience. On her debut album the Congolese singer-songwriter tells stories of love, separation and chauvinism—plus childhood innocence lost and miraculously recovered. Time has been as thin as space in her 24 years: Born in Kinshasa in 1997, she composed songs before age seven and her father … More Céline Banza: Praefatio

Afrika Mamas: Ilanga / The Sun

Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Shakira, Nicki Minaj—voices embodying women’s empowerment have revolutionized popular music over the past half century. But as superstars rouse millions of women, they also highlight art as an individual pursuit. Transformative group vocals are more readily found in communal-oriented societies—and there is no finer example than Afrika Mamas, six single … More Afrika Mamas: Ilanga / The Sun

Adjiri Odametey: Ekonklo

Adjiri Odametey has a touch of the philosophy professor who presents life’s central questions in the classroom, or around the campfire, with such gentle and infectious enthusiasm that we don’t so much think it over as drink it in. Ekonklo (The Other Side), the singer-songwriter’s sixth album, is brimming with disparate elements that fit together only by the grace of a virtuoso. Odametey was born and raised in Ghana, where he studied traditional music … More Adjiri Odametey: Ekonklo

Fely Tchaco: Yita (Deep Water)

Migration is a universal story: All humanity came out of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Voluntary or involuntary, migration is constant, driven by push-pull factors like dreams, exploration, climate change, conflict, hunger and persecution. Yita (Deep Water), the title track of Fely Tchaco’s fifth album, is a soaring elegy for migrants who never reached their destination and also a hymn … More Fely Tchaco: Yita (Deep Water)

The Teacups: In Which…

The Teacups have etched a high profile on the United Kingdom’s folk landscape these past ten years and the a cappella quartet’s third album is an epic journey that adds to their stellar reputation. The collection’s 19 traditional and modern songs encompass seafaring, hunting and drinking, tilled gardens, street vendor cries, love, loss and class inequality, all delivered with elegant timing and breathtaking harmony. The ensemble—Alex … More The Teacups: In Which…

Leyla McCalla: Vari-Colored Songs – A Tribute to Langston Hughes

Leyla McCalla stands enigmatically on the cover of Vari-Colored Songs, her dress suggesting the solution to a puzzle: Connect the dots. On the album she sings eight Langston Hughes poems that she set to music, five traditional Haitian songs (in Creole), and two original compositions—all to lean, elegant arrangements. The common thread is … More Leyla McCalla: Vari-Colored Songs – A Tribute to Langston Hughes

Beppe Gambetta: Where the Wind Blows / Dove Tia o Vento

Over a career spanning 40-plus years and more than a dozen albums, Beppe Gambetta has steadily added talents to his repertoire. From a young acoustic guitarist channeling Italian and American folk and bluegrass into a signature style, he became singer, composer, arranger, sound engineer and concert producer. At age 65 he has added one … More Beppe Gambetta: Where the Wind Blows / Dove Tia o Vento

Black Umfolosi: Washabalal’ Umhlaba / Earth Song

The Zimbabwean ensemble Black Umfolosi takes its name from a river in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, whence the group’s ancestors migrated almost 200 years ago. And though the zigzagging riverbed has been mostly dry in recent years it remains a wellspring of identity and memory inspiring the gentle cadences and sparkling harmonies of its distant sons and daughters. Over the course of … More Black Umfolosi: Washabalal’ Umhlaba / Earth Song