Bab El West: Douar

The concept of Bab El West’s first full-length album was born in Brittany when Habib Farroukh spotted a road sign for the town of Douarnenez. The Moroccan-born singer-composer and two French-born band mates compared notes and discovered that “douar” has almost the same meaning in Breton (land or domain) as in Arabic and Berber (village). Thus emerged the enchanting, imaginary hometown-homeland of their music, at the crossroads of … More Bab El West: Douar

Gwyneth Glyn: Tro

Gwyneth Glyn’s elegant songs have more layers than a mille-feuille. Her images and subtexts rotate clear and dreamlike, overlaid with lyric tones of light and shadow. She touches on homecoming, remembrance, insomnia, protection and defiance—always circling back to the wonder and vulnerability of love and intimacy. Glyn sings, primarily in Welsh, in a softly commanding voice. On Tro (Turn), her songs, mostly new compositions, have a gorgeously … More Gwyneth Glyn: Tro

Carmen París & Nabyla Maan: Dos Medinas Blancas

If you had to choose one biography as a window to the splendor and diversity of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain), a good choice might be the scientist-philosopher-musician-poet Ibn Bâjja. Though much of his work was lost, his theories on astronomy and physics were preserved by Maimonides and Averroes, fellow polymaths who shared his fate—all outlived the age of coexistence and died in exile. The modern … More Carmen París & Nabyla Maan: Dos Medinas Blancas

Diogo Nogueira: Munduê

The samba artist Diogo Nogueira has reached new heights and greater depth with his fifth solo studio album: It’s the first collection for which he wrote or co-wrote all the songs (with A-list partners, including Hamilton de Holanda and Dona Ivone Lara) and it also establishes him as a scholar. Nogueira’s family history (father a leading sambista) and the observances of the samba centennial in 2016 fueled his desire to explore the genre’s roots in Afro-Brazilian … More Diogo Nogueira: Munduê

Kata: Tívils døtur

The voices of the women’s quintet are celestial and the album was recorded in a church dating from 1250, but the words embedded in Kata’s enchanting harmonies tell mostly cautionary tales. Tívils døtur (Tivil’s Daughters) features mythical heroes and folk figures, trolls, witches, giants, slayers and, always in the middle, vulnerable women—all figures in traditional songs from the Faroe Islands. Kata performs a cappella save for light drum and … More Kata: Tívils døtur

Blaumut: Equilibri

In principle, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but in artful hands the ratio can change. Take, for example, Jack Vettriano’s painting “The Singing Butler”—showing an elegant couple, under servant-held umbrellas, dancing on a beach—which Blaumut lead singer and composer Xavi de la Iglesia brings to life as Vint-i-un botons (Twenty-one buttons), an equal-value, 240-word song, simultaneously tangible and surreal, narrated by the butler himself … More Blaumut: Equilibri

Claudia Koreck: Holodeck

As consistently as she releases sparkling albums, Claudia Koreck reaches new heights. Her 2007 debut ignited a revival of Bavarian-dialect song, a movement that now counts her as its Grande Dame. In short order one of her compositions became a major film title track and she toured Germany with the Eagles. Her success rests less on strategic choices than in simply not letting herself be forced into either/or boxes—she’s a small town girl and a … More Claudia Koreck: Holodeck

Zenobia: Blot en Ild

Like campers kindling a fire with logs, twigs and dry leaves, the women of Zenobia stoke their music with every-life elements—joy and folly, love and sorrow, pride and prejudice. For their fourth album, Louise Støjberg (lead vocals), Mette Kathrine Jensen Stærk (accordion) and Charlotte Støjberg (piano), have composed 16 melodies in the Danish folk tradition, with the lion’s share of new lyrics by Martin Rauff-Nielsen, in addition to some classic … More Zenobia: Blot en Ild

Moh! Kouyaté: Fé Toki

Unlike Robert Frost, obliged to choose between diverging roads in a yellow wood, the singer-songwriter Moh! Kouyaté was able to take two routes at once. On his geographic journey he retraced the course of the blues from the Niger River, in his native Guinea, to the Mississippi Delta. On his concurrent artistic voyage he followed the sound waves to the confluence of blues, jazz and classic rock, where he found the energy source for his music … More Moh! Kouyaté: Fé Toki

Carrie Newcomer: Live at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Listening Post 131. For an age of battered facts, closing doors and short attention spans, the folksinger-songwriter Carrie Newcomer is blessed with a superpower: Many talented singers can engage us and touch our heartstrings, but she has the ability, in a three-minute song, to locate and tie a ribbon around the better angels of our nature. The bard … More Carrie Newcomer: Live at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater