THAO & THE GET DOWN STAY DOWN, Temple (Ribbon): ★★★

Co-producing with longtime bandmate Adam Thompson, frontwoman Thao Nguyen contemplates identity, home and relationship. It’s a quieter, less funky outing than 2016’s “A Man Alive.” “Traveled so lightly cause/ I was a fraction out there/ Bodies in motion just/ Wanna belong somewhere,” she sings on the wise “Pure Cinema.” The ingratiating title track voices immigrant parents’ expectations, while “Phenom” seethes over a hip-hop groove: “White collar cannibal/ Whatcha gonna do/ Everyone’s a tendon/ So who you gonna chew.” thaoandthegetdownstaydown.com

JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT, Reunions (Southeastern): ★★★★

“Isbell’s one of our greatest songwriters” is a truism on par with “water is wet,” so lauding his seventh studio album’s compositional craft and honesty is backhanded praise. It’s what we expect. And Isbell, blunt yet discerningly poetic, delivers. Mining deeper, broader terrain with the 400 Unit and producer Dave Cobb, he melds muscular rock guitars, ’80s-style keyboards, acoustic Americana instrumentation and melodic structure for a varied release informed by pre-pandemic loss, sobriety, cultural storms and political disgust. Raging, self-challenging rockers “What’ve I Done to Help” (featuring David Crosby) and “Be Afraid” testify to this era’s uncertainty and injustice; subsequent tracks explore conscience, anger, love’s compromises, compassion, integrity. We’re all grappling with those now. Highlights: the exquisite “Overseas” (“My love won’t change/ My love won’t change a thing/ You’re never coming back to me”), “St. Peter’s Autograph.” Jasonisbell.com

TIDIANE THIAM, Siftorde (Sahel Sounds): ★★★1/2

Having learned to play guitar by listening to radio in northern Senegal, Thiam’s style’s more melodic than what’s often heard from western and northern Africa’s Sahel region throughout this instrumental set, whose title translates as “Remember” or “Souvenir.” Rhythmically simpler than Habib Koité or Boubacar Traoré, less mournful than Tuareg guitarist Ahmed Ag Kaedy, these 10 acoustic tracks were recorded on a lone microphone at night in Thiam’s hometown. The arpeggiated riffs of “Hommage a Toumani Diabaté” faithfully echo the Malian kora master’s work, while trilling crickets enhance the tranquil ambiance. Highlights: “Djatasoun,” the pensive “Douga.” tidianethiam.bandcamp.com

PORCELAIN RAFT, Come Rain (Volcanic Field): ★★★

Mostly recorded in LA and Crestline over the past two years, with additions made in Rome during the pandemic lockdown, this modest eight-track Italian release from Mauro Remiddi is fittingly moody and brooding. If cabin fever has you climbing the walls, cue up the hopeful “For a While” (“Dreamers dream aloud”), the chiming “The Way Things Are” and piano-centered “Tall Grass” (“Let your imagination roll/ Let your mind sing the song/ Leave this world behind”). porcelainraft.com