Mavis Staples’s Soulful Solidarity, and 10 More New Songs

Mavis Staples’s Soulful Solidarity, and 10 More New Songs


No one else does solidarity, reconciliation and mutual uplift with the soulful dignity of Mavis Staples. “All in It Together” proclaims, “I don’t need any enemies/I want you to be my friend.” Produced by Jeff Tweedy, the song feels loose-limbed and unpolished, hinting at the Rolling Stones’ forays into country. Tweedy leans into his slide guitar and Scott Ligon slings honky-tonk piano flourishes as Staples insists, “I need you/you need me.” The song benefits My Block, My Hood, My City, a Chicago group helping seniors through the pandemic. JON PARELES

Moses Sumney takes the underpinnings of a vintage soul ballad — an unhurried bass line, a pure and airborne falsetto vocal, gospel tropes of weariness and longing — and thoroughly twists them in “Cut Me,” a sweetly harmonized song about a compulsion toward self-harm, recognized but not conquered. The bass line is spattered with stop-start piano clusters; the song lopes forward through sweet falsetto harmonies, surreal electronics and — why not? — trombones answering Sumney’s voice. It’s one more advance puzzle piece from Sumney’s “Grae,” due in May. PARELES

“Life’s gotta get easier,” sings serpentwithfeet — the songwriter Josiah Wise — backed by metronomic ticking, impassive minor-key piano arpeggios, a muted beat and something that squeaks. It’s not a prediction — it’s a plea. PARELES

Finally, a video for one of the year’s most infectious pop songs, a casually-loping lite hip-hop ballad full of regret tempered with pity. Pofwu raps with a kind of tender lethargy, or maybe a lethargic kind of tenderness — either way, he’s sweetly compelling. The Dido-ish countermelody by the singer beabadoobee injects a dose of early ’90s melancholy. JON CARAMANICA

An understatedly lush quasi-soul thumper from Troye Sivan, whose songs’ production has often communicated more emphatically than he did. This track is restrained, freeing him to sing calmly, which suits him well. But he hasn’t forsaken loudness — in the final minute, his main vocals drop out, and the song begins to swallow him, swelling into some blend of arch new wave and soulful hard techno. CARAMANICA

The music couldn’t be gentler: folky strumming, breathy vocals, floating sustained horns. But as the title suggests, the 1975 is stirring the pot with “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” which has Matty Healy and Phoebe Bridgers confessing to same-sex attractions that they dare not reveal to their peers. “Fortunately I believe — lucky me,” Healy sings, leaving listeners to gauge the irony. PARELES

Pete Kember, better known as Sonic Boom, still embraces the cavernous, neo-psychedelic mantras he brought to Spacemen 3, E.A.R. and his own Sonic Boom projects. In this single from his album due June 5, “All Things Being Equal,” the beat is steadfast, synthesizers pulse and swell and wordless “ahs” enfold him as he sings a refrain that might as well be benevolent advice about open-ended but well-connected isolation: “Make it about the way that you live/Make it about the love that you give.” PARELES

In which DaBaby eases up on the gas pedal, finds just a touch of melody, and spreads his typical cluster of punches out a little — not a lot, just a little — over an understated and maybe shrug-worthy bit of Nelly-esque production. CARAMANICA

When a musician considers himself basically a healer, as the South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini does, you can look for clues to his purpose in the effect he has on others. So let’s talk about how I’ve never heard Logan Richardson play the alto saxophone like he does on “Yehlisan’uMoya,” the opener of Makhathini’s Blue Note debut, “Models of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds.” Actually, Richardson’s playing — melodic and brazen and scrawled; circling more than slicing, which is unusual for him ­— is consistently among the best things about this album. And that’s no knock on the bandleader. Because here’s another best thing: the multidirectional synthesis of Makhathini’s compositions, immersed as they are in the traditions of South Africa’s Eastern Cape but richly shaded with Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Andrew Hill and John Coltrane too. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

“This World” offers a hymnlike chorus like a backwoods church congregation, unknowingly transported to be joined by reverb-y guitars or stately orchestra. “This world’s gonna break your heart/There’ll be no place to lay your head,” they sing, with the dusty-voiced Infinite Cole offering somber verses: “I call your name but the truth is hard to find.” It’s the eerie finale of the album “Friday Forever” by Everything Is Recorded, the project of Richard Russell, the producer and head of XL Records; it’s supposed to be the last chapter of a narrative. PARELES

The big band is one of the unwieldiest old vehicles in jazz. But every time the saxophonists Anna Webber and Angela Morris create a piece of music together, they seem to be picking apart their 19-piece ensemble and reassembling it from scratch. On “Both Are True,” its five-years-awaited debut album, the Webber/Morris Big Band is at times a clenched fist (on “Rebonds”), elsewhere a prismatic splay of light (on the title track). On the 10-minute “Coral,” what begins as an Elysian immersion in reeds and brass grows dark and dispersed. Throughout, no steady rhythm takes hold. But at the end, when those original, idyllic harmonies return, so does a sense of peace. RUSSONELLO



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