WYATT WADDELL, Fight! (Rosebud Allday): ****

In the expanding parade of raw songs emerging from historic protests marching across the country and globe, this soulful Chicagoan’s single stands out with its exuberant faith and focus. A smartly edited video swiftly garnered media attention and the song, released last week to digital platforms, piques curiosity about what Waddell could do with a lengthier project. “Starin’ officers in the face/ Sprayed with mace,” he sings over a rousing gospel choir and handclaps. “Stand up to fight/ It’s your moral right/ To stand against divide.”wyattwaddell.bandcamp.com

LARKIN POE, Self Made Man (Tricki-Woo): ***

Self-producing sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell lean harder into guitar-driven rock, braiding it with gospel elements and broadened subject matter in this follow-up to 2018’s slicker, Grammy-nominated “Venom & Faith.” Titanic-themed stomper “God Moves on the Water,” first popularized by Blind Willie Johnson during the Depression, is augmented with Megan’s robust lap steel fills and new verses about the great San Francisco quake and contemporary struggles. The mood-shifting “Every Bird That Flies” further showcases how Megan textures and shapes their sound as Rebecca voices defiant spirit. “I got a plan up top and two strong hands,” she declares during the title track. “Lord have mercy, I’m a self-made man.” Other highlights: “Holy Ghost Fire,” “Ex-Con.” Larkinpoe.com

BAB L’BLUZ, Nayda! (RealWorld): ****

The Moroccan-French quartet weave a percussive hybrid of gnawa and rock rhythms that’s funkier than West Africa’s more droning desert blues and less pop than the late Rachid Taha’s eclectic raï fusions. Frontwoman Yousra Mansour, who composed most tracks with guitarist/guembrist Brice Bottin, spiritedly occupies the role traditionally reserved for men in gnawa ceremonies, singing about freedom, healing, love, and government corruption in Moroccan-Arabic dialect. Highlights: a magnetic arrangement of Dimi Mint Abba and Khalifa Ould Eide’s “Waydelel,” with the awisha’s banjo-like lines undulating through the call-and-response chorus and bowed rebab (spiked fiddle); “Gnawa Beat”; and “Ila Mata,” a hypnotic call for justice and peace inspired by the words of Tunisian poet Anis Shoshan. realworldrecords.com/releases/nayda/

LOUISE GOFFIN, Two Different Movies (Majority of One): ***

Handsomely constructed melodies that evoke Laurel Canyon’s ’70s heyday as well as Goffin’s legendary parents (Carole King and Gerry Goffin) should make this 10-track set an ear-pleasing escape for pop fans. A sense of personal journey is underscored by the presence of a multigenerational crew of A-list players (including arranger Van Dyke Parks, keyboardist Benmont Tench, pedal steel master Greg Leisz) and the cover art (sketched by Joni Mitchell for an 11-year-old Goffin at a Carole King-James Taylor concert). Goffin gives poignant voice to commonly held yearnings with the title track, the dreamy “Safe Place to Land,” and especially “Simple Life”: “I want a simple life … I want to go outside, hang out with the birds and the trees.” louisegoffin.com

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER, Sideways to New Italy (Sub Pop): ***

Guitars chime so brightly throughout the Australian rockers’ sophomore album that you can practically see sunlight shimmering on ocean waves. Guitarist-songwriters Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White exchange leads with crisp support from bassist Joe Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie, sketching harmonic promises in the air before uttering a word and animating beautiful aural pictures such as “Sunglasses at the Wedding” and “Falling Thunder.” Guitars ignite “The Second of the First,” while words unfortunately tarnish the labored “Beautiful Steven,” and with all the synth-stabbed dreams of “Cars in Space” and “Cameo” nostalgia comes a disquieting suspicion that gazing into the past while motoring up PCH appeals more than holding steady on the road ahead. rollingblackoutsband.com

MADISON MCFERRIN, Stay TF Inside — Live Loop Pack (self-released): ***½

A nimble a cappella soul artist, the Brooklyn vocalist offers blunt, pained reminders of the coronavirus pandemic’s enduring threat and human costs with these two smoothly crafted singles. McFerrin sweetens the sting of her no-nonsense declarations — “Stay TF Inside” and “[I Just Wanna] Hug My Mama” — with addictive hooks and silky harmonies repeatedly looped and layered with fingersnaps, to entrancing effect. A sonic reprieve and essential listening during this monumental summer. Madisonmcferrin.com

MICHAEL MCDERMOTT, What in the World… (Pauper Sky): ***½

The furious title track launches this emotional, rocking set, a hooky, Petty-esque broadside at political corruption, poverty, racism, police brutality, environmental devastation, the opioid epidemic, neo-Nazism, and “welfare for billionaires” (“Peter’s robbing Paul and they’re drinking with your paycheck”), themes revisited throughout the 12 tracks. McDermott’s lyrics are poetically barbed as usual and his tough-and-tender baritone’s in dynamic form as he alternates between acoustic-textured intimacy (“New York, Texas,” “Die With Me”), more grandly produced arrangements that suit his passionate subjects (“The Veils of Veronica,” the Charleston-inspired “Mother Emanuel”), and surprisingly happy interludes (the steel-buffed “The Things You Want”). michael-mcdermott.com

TOMAR AND THE FCS, Rise Above (Splice): ***½

“Often feels like times back in ’68 … and it’s not gonna change unless we feel the need/ Pain is pain regardless how you see it through/ You can’t forget about the next man and only focus on you.” Released at the beginning of the year, the Austin soul quintet’s sophomore album feels like worry-muting balm in this moment, winningly blending Stax-style grit, thumping grooves, and frontman Tomar Williams’ hopeful ebullience. Highlights: the horn-punched “Fine Time” (“You know my job just laid me off yesterday/ To be blindsided with all this news today”), “Innocence,” “Take Your Time.” thefcs.band