Flavia Coelho: Sonho Real

She is innocent and wise, a nomad and a poet, an alchemist of styles whose music is more colorful than the sum of its parts. Flavia Coelho, a girl from the slums of Rio de Janeiro who sang in the Paris métro and emerged a star, had none of the resources but all the energy and talent she needed. On Sonho Real (Dream Come True), her third album, she mixes elements of forró, ska, reggae and dub, spins … More Flavia Coelho: Sonho Real

Mokoomba: Luyando

The first album from the Zimbabwean band Mokoomba, released in 2012, was a rock-oriented disk with an urban, pan-African orientation. But tradition was embedded in the group’s name—Mokoomba means “respect for the river”—and their second album, Luyando (Mother’s Love), is a gentler, more acoustic collection devoted to the history and culture of the band’s home territory, the Zambezi river valley. Built on the vibrant voice of lead singer Mathias Muzaza (singing mostly in Luvale and Tonga … More Mokoomba: Luyando

Daoirí Farrell: True Born Irishman

Daoirí (pronounced “Derry”) Farrell is a performer and scholar of Irish music. Two of the songs on True Born Irishman, his award-winning second album, are compositions by the late folk singer Liam Weldon, who was not only a role model but also the subject of Farrell’s master’s thesis at the University of Limerick’s music school. Across the album’s ten tracks of jaunty and mournful songs and masterful arrangements, Farrell’s voice sparkles with … More Daoirí Farrell: True Born Irishman

Pauline Croze: Bossa Nova

When bossa nova swept the world, no country was more receptive than France. Marcel Camus’ Oscar-winning film Black Orpheus—music by Tom Jobim and Luiz Bonfá—channeled the Brazilian wave to new audiences. French artists translated and sang bossa nova anthems, and some composed original music in the genre. Sixty years later, the beat goes on. After three solid albums of pop/folk groove, French singer-guitarist Pauline Croze has taken on the bossa nova canon with poise … More Pauline Croze: Bossa Nova

Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey

Yiddish is often discussed in before-and-after terms. As a language of daily life it barely survived the Holocaust, and postwar Jewish migration led to further decline. So when the Czech-born Canadian singer Lenka Lichtenberg decided she wanted to perform in a language that hadn’t been spoken in her family for generations, it was less an exercise in adult education than in resurrection. There are other Yiddish singers today, but arguably no one has done more … More Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey

Aurelio: Darandi

Aurelio Martínez, the greatest living Garifuna singer-songwriter, has a powerful, velvety voice and infectious energy, but there is more fueling his inner flame than passion for music: He is trying to preserve his culture and language. The Garifuna people emerged when shipwrecked African slaves found refuge on St. Vincent Island in the Caribbean and mixed with indigenous Arawak Indians. The British deported their descendants to Central America; the Garifuna today live in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua … More Aurelio: Darandi

Hanitra: Lasa – Songs from Madagascar

As Madagascar suffered severe environmental damage over the past generation, it also saw its music flourish. Hanitra Ranaivo has played a key role in the cultural renaissance. She was part of Lolo Sy Ny Tariny, an iconic Malagasy band that helped put the island nation on the world music map, and she made the ballad Maninona e a popular anthem. But as the only woman in a nine-member ensemble, she wanted to write and perform her own songs … More Hanitra: Lasa – Songs from Madagascar

Cristina Branco: Menina

Cristina Branco is a fado virtuoso but her interpretation isn’t confined to a single genre, nor is her inspiration limited to the world of music. Menina (Girl), her fourteenth album, began with a dream about Diego Velázquez’s iconic painting Las Meninas, in which the figures come to life. The vision prompted her to write a self-portrait that she shared with several musicians, asking them to deliberate on her text and come up with songs. The resulting album reflects feminine sensibilities, habits and passions … More Cristina Branco: Menina

Coope Boyes & Simpson: In Flanders Fields

World War I hostilities began in Europe on August 4, 1914—and 976 days later the United States joined the conflict. On August 4, 2014, the English a cappella trio Coope Boyes and Simpson released a sweeping 50-track homage to the songs of the war and the British soldiers and civilians who sang them. Now, some 976 days after the album’s launch, a review from an American music blog seems belatedly on time. In Flanders Fields is a landmark … More Coope Boyes & Simpson: In Flanders Fields

17 Hippies: 20 Years – Anatomy

The Berlin-based world/folk group 17 Hippies emerged in an open-minded Europe that valued diversity. Operating less like a band than a village in which each resident carries instruments and tastes acquired on foreign adventures, the collective’s disparate elements work beautifully together, against expectations. The result is a floating musical center of gravity as inspiring as it is fun, with dominant elements (Balkan rhythm, French chanson, Weimar … More 17 Hippies: 20 Years – Anatomy