Delfina Cheb: Doce Milongas de Amor y un Tango Desesperado

The heart exerts its own form of gravity: The farther it travels, the more it feels the tug of home. When 18-year-old Delfina Cheb arrived at Boston’s Berklee College of Music she recalls drinking in the global music universe—but when she began writing songs she found herself drawn to the sounds of Buenos Aires and the spray of the Río … More Delfina Cheb: Doce Milongas de Amor y un Tango Desesperado

Carla Pires: Cartografado

Travel far and discover yourself: The idea has inspired literary figures and works from Camus to Kerouac to Cloud Atlas. The twist Carla Pires offers on her fourth studio album is assimilating the distant horizon not only into herself but also her art—taking fado away from its origins in Lisbon and showing how it becomes more world-wise and simultaneously more deeply fado. She comes naturally to Cartografado (Fado’s Cartography), having … More Carla Pires: Cartografado

Jesse & Joy: Aire

Every lyric has three dimensions: Surface meaning (often the only facet listeners discern); background inspiration and context; and new interpretations that come from projecting songs onto future landscapes. On its face Aire, Jesse & Joy’s fifth album, is an intoxicating journey through love—budding, burning, struggling, crumbling—delivered in a lush blend of reggaeton, hip-hop, folk and pop/rock ballads, with guest appearances by J Balvin and Luis Fonsi. But … More Jesse & Joy: Aire

Louisa Lyne & di Yiddishe Kapelye: Lust

Louisa Lyne’s art is inserting Yiddish songs into unexpected contexts. On her third album she and her band put the traditional language of Ashkenazi Jews into creative dialogue with Spanish, English, Hebrew and her native Swedish; mix period pieces with new—sometimes surprising—material; and season with klezmer, tango, jazz, Central European cabaret, Cuban and West African sounds. In Lyne’s … More Louisa Lyne & di Yiddishe Kapelye: Lust

Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

Joe Troop doesn’t so much play fusion as embody it: Since his North Carolina childhood, every sound he ever heard seems to have become part of his music personality. At 14 he was inspired when he saw Doc Watson perform, but as much as young Troop covered himself in bluegrass he didn’t think his home turf was the best place for a gay artist, so he opted for world pastures. In Seville he learned … More Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

Alex Cuba: Sublime

Dickens was right in concept but exaggerated the singularity of his age: It is always, in every era and every land, the best and worst of times. Great art often emerges from hard lessons, but sometimes songs written before a crisis rush toward our freshly frazzled nerves like first responders. When he released Sublime last fall Alex Cuba couldn’t have known a pandemic was imminent but today the music of his seventh album penetrates the haze of uncertainty … More Alex Cuba: Sublime

Flor de Toloache: Indestructible

Imaginary exercise: Build an album around three quotes that express enduring truths. 1) “All you need is love;” 2) “Immigrants strengthen the fabric of American life;” 3) “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Okay, this isn’t the real origin story of Flor de Toloache’s intoxicating third album, but it does reflect how neatly and profoundly their … More Flor de Toloache: Indestructible

Vicente García: Candela

According to legend, during the Dominican Republic’s War of Independence a certain solider abandoned his post in the midst of battle, and after victory his comrades mockingly sang ”Tomás fled with the flag” in a distinctive rhythm that became the foundation of merengue. Almost certainly apocryphal, the legend nonetheless reflects a central truth: The music style goes to the heart of Dominican culture and identity. More to the point, merengue—with … More Vicente García: Candela

Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

The U.S.-Mexican border looms large in American discourse these days, but when it comes to the mariachi landscape the frontier barely exists. From Guadalajara to Hollywood to the facing shores of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, one of the most venerated bands performing traditional Mexican music is Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Camperos. The Grammy-winning ensemble has played Carnegie Hall, the … More Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

Nella: Voy

People on three continents paid to see Nella Rojas sing on stage even before the launch of her splendid debut album, but her first post-release show had a captive audience—passengers on an Iberia Airlines flight from Madrid to Lisbon. Intentional or not, the airborne concert (everyone on the plane got a free CD), was an apt metaphor for a song collection focused on the interval between life’s departures and arrivals, between nostalgia, hope and … More Nella: Voy