Flavia Coelho: DNA

Joyce’s Ulysses, Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Hugo’s Les Misérables—often a nation’s most critical and loving assessments come from its children abroad. Add to this roster DNA, the fourth album that Brazilian singer-songwriter Flavia Coelho has sent home from Paris, 12 tracks that convey the artist’s irrepressible spirit and the insight of a penetrating novel. Like her DNA, Coelho’s style palette is a glorious mix—Brazilian and Caribbean sounds … More Flavia Coelho: DNA

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

Roberta Sá: Giro

For better or worse the world always turns, and though the release of Roberta Sá’s Giro (Spin) predates the current global pandemic by several months, it provides a useful lens for looking back with longing and forward with hope at a universe that now seems stuck in the ice of fear, compounded by social distancing. The music reminds us that it’s a beautiful/complicated universe revolving around love—present and absent, creeping and rushing … More Roberta Sá: Giro

Maja Milinković: Fadolinka

Like many artists, Maja Milinković takes advantage of unexpected opportunity and inspiration. She learned guitar in an underground shelter during the Siege of Sarajevo; it helped her stay calm and prepared her for a music career. By age 15 she was playing in a rock band and by 30, with two solo pop-rock albums behind her, she was widely known in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans. But along the way a friend showed her a video of Amália … More Maja Milinković: Fadolinka

Três Bairros: O Turno da Noite

Love is the magician that pulls a man out of his own hat, but how many get lucky when they try to force the alchemy? Consider the countless stories—tragic, hilarious, pathetic, triumphant—of guys who make the effort. To that list add the debut album of Três Bairros, artists of Portuguese tradition (mostly but not exclusively fado) who serve up passion in gardens, cafés, streets and windows, with success … More Três Bairros: O Turno da Noite

La Mòssa: a moss’!

Based in Avignon, the women of La Mòssa are polyphonic and polyglot; they have varied music backgrounds (jazz, folk, rock, roots), they tell stories old and recent, true-to-life, fanciful and surreal, describing marriage and courtship, evoking wars, witches and mermaids. There’s an elegant coherence to it all, as if they carry a world of lore in a small purse—labeled “roads women have traveled” and closed with a clasp of attitude. What binds all the facets … More La Mòssa: a moss’!

Carminho: Maria

The song Sete Saias (Seven Skirts) describes the women of Nazaré, Portugal, who traditionally wore multiple layers on the cold beach where they waited for their husbands’ fishing boats. The only piece of small-town folklore on Maria, the song may at first glance seem like an outlier. But the skirts serve as a perfect metaphor for Carminho’s elaborately layered fifth album. Is the titular Maria the singer—full name Maria do Carmo Carvalho Rebelo de Andrade … More Carminho: Maria

Cristina Branco: Branco

If social media represents the spotlight, what’s hidden in the shadow? Cristina Branco answers on her fifteenth album: Real life, a jumble of dream, sorrow, survival, despair, the passage and freezing of time, and every love story too ambiguous or messy to post about. A persistent question surrounding Branco’s career in recent years is whether she has left fado behind or simply created her own fado-piano genre of Portuguese chanson. But perhaps the … More Cristina Branco: Branco

Sopa de Pedra: Ao Longe Já Se Ouvia

In the folk tale, a hungry traveler stops in a village and asks for food. Rebuffed, he fills a pot with water from a stream, puts a stone in it and places it over a fire. Villagers intrigued by the idea of “Stone Soup”—delicious, the clever traveler insists—surround him and eventually offer ingredients (carrots, onions, seasoning) and share the meal. Like the story that inspired their name, the women of Sopa de … More Sopa de Pedra: Ao Longe Já Se Ouvia