The best new album releases from around the world (June 2020) | Songlines
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The best new album releases from around the world (June 2020)

The editor’s selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the June issue of Songlines, featuring Zoufris Maracas, Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn, Santrofi, Orkesta Mendoza, and more...

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Tracks from each of these albums are included on the free cover-CD that accompanies the June 2020 issue of Songlines. Never miss an issue – subscribe today!

1

Edikanfo

The Pace Setters Glitterbeat Records

In 1981 Brian Eno travelled to Ghana to produce an album by the eight-piece Afro-funk band Edikanfo. Shortly after its release, there was a military coup, Edikanfo’s planned world tour was cancelled and the band broke up. Their one and only album was swiftly forgotten and has been unavailable ever since. Its first reissue in almost 40 years reveals a classic West African album fusing highlife with exuberant slabs of Western funk and disco. Nigel Williamson

Read the full review in the June issue

2

Zoufris Maracas

Bleu de Lune Chapter Two Records

This Franco-Algerian bunch of latter-day troubadours was discovered busking on the streets of Paris. Their live shows are renowned and their highly eclectic and spirited music inevitably draws comparison with Manu Chao’s; they sing of similar themes with a similar compassion and mercurial mix of pan-global musical influences. The original quintet has now become a nine-piece, so it’s unsurprising that this, their fourth album, should be certainly bigger and arguably better than ever before. Mark Sampson

Read the full review in the June issue

3

Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn

Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

While her husband Béla Fleck has been busily recording with African musicians, Abigail Washburn has forged a productive collaboration with the Chinese singer and guzheng player Wu Fei. The fusion of two very different folk traditions seems natural and unforced, perhaps because both have lived inside each other’s cultures. Washburn learned Chinese music while staying in Chengdu in the 90s and has toured China several times since. After a classical training at a Chinese conservatoire, Fei studied in California before pitching up on Washburn’s porch as a neighbour in Nashville. Nigel Williamson

Read the full review in the June issue

4

Damir Imamović

Singer of Tales Wrasse Records

Of this generation of singers Damir Imamović has the most scholarly approach, tracing the music to brothels and opium dens as much as the perfumed rose garden of popular imagination, but he is also a masterful performer with a powerful yet sensitive baritone voice. Kim Burton

Read the full review in the June issue

5

Santrofi

Alewa Outhere Records

Ahead of the release of this debut, Accra eight-piece Santrofi tore through the European festival scene with livewire sets. They might be crowd pleasers, but with Alewa Santrofi intend to stir the soul as well as the body by making the case that Ghanaian highlife is high art. Liam Izod

Read the full review in the June issue

6

Will Pound

A Day Will Come Lulubug Records

Last summer, when the people of Britain were discussing leaving the European Union and what this meant, harmonica and melodeon maestro Will Pound travelled across Europe, physically and musically, to explore what it is. ‘The idea,’ Pound says, ‘was to discover and celebrate the traditional music of the countries that make up the European Union.’ His album (its cover the colour of EU passports) comprises tunes from each of the 27 member states, from Finland to Spain, Ireland to Cyprus. Julian May

Read the full review in the June issue

7

Mao Ya

Moon Over City Ruins Rhymoi Music

Chinese guzheng player Mao Ya acts as music director for a roster of Japanese and Chinese musicians playing a selection of Japanese hôgaku (traditional and folk songs) and regional folk tunes from throughout China, featuring instruments from both countries including the shakuhachi, shamisen, taiko and koto from Japan, and the guzheng, ruan and erhu from China. James Catchpole

Read the full review in the June issue

8

Dàibhidh Stiùbhard

An Sionnach Dubh Wildtune

Dàibhidh Stiùbhard’s remarkably assured debut, An Sionnach Dubh (The Black Fox), showcases one of the most individual of voices to emerge in Irish music in recent years. It also offers eloquent evidence of the deepening involvement of Northern Ireland’s young artists in their own regional tradition and discovery of increasing kinship with their southern and Scottish neighbours. The dark, peaty soil of Stiùbhard’s native County Tyrone seems ingrained in a voice that ranges from lilting poetry to aching lament. Michael Quinn

Read the full review in the June issue

9

Orkesta Mendoza

Curandero Glitterbeat Records

The US/Mexican frontier is a hotspot of hope and anguish, drugs and guns, rednecks and refugees. Orkesta Mendoza, formed by Calexico percussionist and keyboard player Sergio Mendoza, accents the celebratory and the vital. Upbeat cumbia, swoony ranchera and, above all on this third release, banging boogaloo are given a polished, rock-friendly treatment that’s the ultimate in likeable Latin crossover. Chris Moss

Read the full review in the June issue

10

Aquarela

A Bela Vida Buda Musique

It’s not often that the oboe takes the lead in any genre and its pinched tone can sometimes be too much of a good thing, but the latest of Jean-Luc ‘Oboman’ Fillon’s explorations of the Brazilian choro tradition is a delight from first note to last. Like its two predecessors, A Bela Vida features Fillon’s virtuoso oboe playing, which is deftly and sympathetically accompanied by Edu Miranda’s ten-string mandolin and Tuniko Goulart’s seven-string acoustic guitar. Mark Sampson

Read the full review in the June issue

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