Mor Karbasi: Ojos de Novia

The Sephardic saga includes chapters of persecution and expulsion, but on her forth album the Israeli singer-songwriter Mor Karbasi (who has also lived in London and Seville) looks at her Jewish heritage from Spain and Morocco mostly through the prism of love. Ojos de Novia (Eyes of a Bride) embraces songs of romantic love (though sometimes involving disapproving or even warring parents), love of family, of God, of singing and of nature. This is an … More Mor Karbasi: Ojos de Novia

Ciro Hurtado: Selva

In the Peruvian rainforest where Ciro Hurtado grew up, the sun peaked through the tree canopy and radio brought musical breezes from neighboring countries and around the world. Though he has lived in the United States since he was 20, Hurtado has spent his life as a guitarist and composer creating his own hybrid habitat, with an abundance of musical species—Andean folk, classical, jazz, blues, flamenco, among others—fusing into a magical echo/ecosystem. On his newest album … More Ciro Hurtado: Selva

Ana Alcaide: Leyenda

Ana Alcaide has forged a personal Silk Route to distant lands and past epochs. Blending imported elements into her music, she has made the Swedish nyckelharpa part of her medieval Spanish repertoire; released two albums exploring the Sephardic experience; and fused sounds with Indonesian musicians. On Leyenda (Legend), her fifth album, Alcaide offers fables of women who devote earthly and magical powers to good and wise, sinister and sometimes tragic ends. Her silky, seductive … More Ana Alcaide: Leyenda

Ricardo Arjona: Apague la Luz y Escuche

When Ricardo Arjona was playing on Guatemala’s state basketball team in 1987, he scored 78 points in a single game, setting a national record that stood for decades. He also has impressive numbers as a singer-songwriter—filling 100,000-seat stadiums and selling 20 million albums, placing him among the most popular Latin American artists of all time. Arjona crafts his music from elegant melodies and passionate lyrics; from a pop/rock base, he has … More Ricardo Arjona: Apague la Luz y Escuche

Ismael Serrano: La Llamada

Few artists juggle as many elements as the Spanish cantautor Ismael Serrano. First, there is the potent and cohesive mix of social comment and protest alongside songs of love and heartbreak. Then, his soft baritone, clear even when it’s just above a whisper, coupled with exquisite melodies and poetry crafted for his vocal gifts. La Llamada (The Call), his epic thirteenth studio album, offers a Latin American soundscape encompassing trova and bachata, ranchera … More Ismael Serrano: La Llamada

Fonseca: Conexión

Listening Post 39. Fonseca became one of Latin America’s leading singer-songwriters using an explosive mix of vallenato and cumbia—Colombia’s traditional folk styles—with tropipop. On Conexión, he offers a riveting pan-Latin blend. In Ya No Mi Faltas (I Don’t Miss You Anymore), a ranchera-tango hybrid co-written with the Argentine artist Claudia Brant, he recites a sardonic message to a former flame: “I get that you’re no longer with me … More Fonseca: Conexión

Jesse & Joy: Un Besito Más

An album that makes those “greatest of all time” lists is one you can listen to it endlessly and never want to skip a track. Un Besito Más (One More Kiss) by the Mexican brother-sister, singer-songwriter duo Jesse Eduardo and Tirzah Joy Huerta Uecke is one of those records. It includes appearances by some leading stars of Spanish-language music, but nothing on their fourth album outshines Joy’s crystalline voice and Jesse’s … More Jesse & Joy: Un Besito Más

Tony Ávila: Timbiriche

Nations rarely achieve higher living standards without losing some of their essence in the climb. The Cuban troubadour Tony Ávila sings and composes with wit, nostalgia and caution about the grinding wheels of change and progress. The title song of his second solo album—a timbiriche is a little shop or stand that sells food and trinkets—addresses the march to open small businesses. “If selling is a science,” he sings, “let’s see what happens … More Tony Ávila: Timbiriche

Wilfran Castillo: Desigual

For two decades, Wilfran Castillo has been the preferred composer for many of Latin America’s most popular singers. With Desigual (Unequal), the Colombian musician demonstrates that he can not only write songs that trip well from the lips of other artists, but also blend his own tenor superbly with their voices—whether those voices soar or quaver. A mix of romantic ballads and social commentary, the album’s nine duets and four solos … More Wilfran Castillo: Desigual

Alvaro Soler: Eterno Agosto

While summer headlines about Greek debt and the refugee crisis made it seem like Europe was coming apart, a throbbing, Latin-beat song about erasing borders became a smash hit across the continent. The song, El Mismo Sol (The Same Sun), is by Alvaro Soler, a half-Spanish, half-German, singer-songwriter, raised in Barcelona and Tokyo. His simple, catchy lyrics—“Let’s celebrate together, here we all are, under the same sun” … More Alvaro Soler: Eterno Agosto