JONAH MUTONO, GERG (True Panther/EQT): ***½

Mutono, who previously recorded as Kidepo, insightfully considers traditional values, sexual orientation, racism and identity while yearning for a “love on the low” and uncompromised connection throughout this R&B set edged with tension between his sensitive vocal warmth and synth-centric electronic arrangements. London-born, and raised in Philadelphia, Kenya, Uganda and England before returning to Uganda, the 25-year-old balladeer’s familiarity with differing cultures and social mores textures songs such as hooky single “The Low” (“I really can’t take you to my mama”), “Shoulders,” “Human for a Day,” and the aching “1949”: “If you need somebody/ Somebody to be/ You can’t count on timing/ Or just wait and see/ I’ll be that somebody/ So settle for me.” instagram.com/jonahmutono

LUDOVICO EINAUDI, 12 Songs From Home (Decca): ****

With Italy ravaged by the coronavirus and his tours canceled, the minimalist Italian pianist had already been live-streaming concerts from lockdown when he started using his iPhone to record these late-night sessions at home in March and April, while his family slept. The organic, soft-pedaled ambiance enhances the transporting melodies of fan favorites such as early-career standout “Le Onde,” “Elegy for the Arctic,” “Ascent” (from last year’s “Seven Days Walking”) and the bittersweet “Novole Bianche.” No anxiety, just peace. Bellissima. ludovicoeinaudi.com

JESS WILLIAMSON, Sorceress (Mexican Summer): ***½

The dusky-voiced Austin-to-LA transplant conjures a netherworld of grief and belief (“Wind on Tin”), morning-after dreams (“Love’s Not Hard to Find”), and forgiveness replacing hypocritical policies (“Rosaries at the Border”). Subtle instrumental touches adorn poetic allusions throughout her country-washed, occasionally psychedelic pop tunes — cascades of pedal steel, memory-stirring notes from a Rhodes keyboard, baritone guitar and saxophone lines rising from the depths like hope. Highlights: “As the Birds Are,” “Infinite Scroll,” “Gulf of Mexico” (“If we wanted to be mothers, we’re out of time for being alone”). jesswilliamson.com

MOURNING [A] BLKSTAR, The Cycle (Don Giovanni): ***½

Opening with the hypnotic “If I Can If I May,” Cleveland’s resilient “Afrofuturist soul” octet follows 2018’s moving “The Garner Poems” and last year’s classic soul-influenced “Reckoning” with this cinematic, 18-track fusion of blues, funk, electronic beats, hip-hop, jazz, soul, and sociopolitical consciousness. Vocalists James Longs, Kyle Kidd and La Toya Kent channel passion and determination — “So Young So,” in particular, is fiercely sung — and drummer Dante Foley, trumpeter Theresa May and trombonist William Washington further illuminate a meaty set intended for conscious rather than casual consumption. Other highlights: “Holds,” “Mist :: Missed,” “Devil Get Behind Me” (“Racism is a byproduct of capitalism”). mourningablkstar.com

BUTCH WALKER, American Love Story (Ruby Red): ***

“Are we having a conversation?” Opening with that blunt question, repeated with multiple emphases by varied voices, the Grammy-nominated Pink/Taylor Swift songwriter and producer then segues into catchy single “Gridlock,” a less confrontational opener for a “rock opera” whose sleekly produced songs (“Blinded By the White,” “Divided States of America,” “6Ft Middle-Age American Man”) explicitly address America’s racial and social divides. Per Walker, who now shuttles between LA and Nashville, it’s loosely inspired by childhood observations of a bigoted bully in Georgia, which may explain why its melodies and titles echo familiar classic rock (Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen). Familiarity breeds tolerance? Are we having a conversation? butchwalker.com

I BREAK HORSES, Warnings (Bella Union): ***½

The Swedish act’s third album emerged from a five-year gestation period that included vocalist/composer Maria Lindén watching films with the sound muted, an exercise that inspired musical ideas that eventually yielded compositions gathered here. The intensity of nine-minute opener “Turn” and “I Live at Night” is balanced by shinier tracks such as the intoxicating “Neon Lights” (“I’ll burn until there’s no life left/ I’ll steal until I’m all but theft/ In your bloodflow”). Layered with Mellotron, sleek guitars and synthesizers, the music’s deliberate yet dreamy, cool yet emotional, atmospheric though studded with pop hooks — a study in contradictions that feel true to our upside-down time. ibreakhorses.se

RIC WILSON & TERRACE MARTIN, They Call Me Disco (Free Disco/EMPIRE/Sounds of Crenshaw): ***

“Way beyond space and time/ Floating into nothing turning into rhymes/ Not overthinking the shit I thought to say, ”Wilson raps during spacey closer “Beyond Me.” “Global warming is swarming around beyond the matrix/ While we out here killing for colorism and hatred.”Other lyrics are silly and fun; this six-track EP, produced by Martin, aims to deliver feel-good, disco-dressed funk bright with synthesizers, electronic drums, silky harmonies and tempting invitations (“Break the rules”). Bring your own dance moves. ricwilsonmusic.com

CRYSTAL SHAWANDA, Church House Blues (New Sun/True North): ***

The indigenous Canadian artist moved to Nashville with a country career in mind, and Music City’s imprint can be discerned in the polished production of her fourth blues album. Producer/husband Dewayne Strobel frames Shawanda’s gritty, persuasive vocals with lean guitar, church organ, and soulful harmonies from the McCrary Sisters. The most potent tracks give her space to stretch out and belt, and solidly connect with material that feels drawn from life: “Move Me,” the gospel-infused “Bigger Than the Blues,” and late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie’s swampy “New Orleans is Sinking” (“And I don’t wanna swim”). crystalshawanda.com