LADAMA, Oye Mujer (Six Degrees): ★★★

Singing in Portuguese, Spanish and English, Venezuelan llanera player Mafer Bandola, Brazilian drummer Lara Klaus, Colombian tambor alegre player Daniela Serna and American guitarist Sara Lucas champion female empowerment and social justice with solid support from longtime New York bassist Pat Swoboda and Bebel Gilberto/Caetano Veloso producer Kassin. They’re most musically engaging when joining voices (“Maria”), channeling anger into rhythmic urgency (“Mar Rojo”) and upending sexist condescension—the latter accomplished by the samba- and reggaeton-infused “Misterio,” which shames body shamers and insists, “The pleasure is mine.”

A.A. WILLIAMS, Forever Blue

(Bella Union): ★★★

Pain and loss weigh heavily on the London singer-songwriter’s debut solo album, from Williams’ dusky alto and the cello and piano of storm-gathering opener “All I Asked For (Was to End It All)” through “Glimmer” (“I wait undone/ I wasn’t meant to be the one hollow and hurt and meant for none”) and the slow-building “Wait.” Informed by classical music and rock, it’s a moody piece of work reaching for catharsis, particularly during “Fearless” (featuring Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson’s unsettling roar) and the confessional “Love and Pain.” It’s not for the light of heart, but beauty lurks in Williams’ shadows.

MACEO PARKER, Soul Food: Cooking With Maceo (The Funk Garage): ★★★½

The widely sampled funk saxophonist jams with New Orleans luminaries such as Dumpstaphunk co-founders Ivan Neville and Tony Hall on classics by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dr. John and the Meters. Fans of Parker’s James Brown days or his ’70s tenure with Parliament-Funkadelic may crave fiery spice more than the smoldering good taste he favors here, but they’re likely to appreciate his affectionate, Ray Charles-style treatment of Prince’s “Other Side of the Pillow” as well as the greasy funk of his own “M A C E O” and Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can.”


(self-released): ★★★★

The Minneapolis artist immediately signals her taste for coloring outside the lines, opening with a jarana-tinged instrumental showcasing her Band of Disbelievers, “Jango,” before segueing into nine more melodic, midtempo songs textured with pop hooks, Americana instrumentation and poetic imagery. Maher and fellow guitarist/co-producer Erik Koskinen craft sonically intriguing arrangements that occasionally recall “Kiko”-era Los Lobos during this subtle, rhythmically varied set, particularly with the atmospheric “Open Road,” “On the 18” and “StormCloud;” during the latter, Koskinen’s acoustic, electric and slide guitars and Maher’s nylon-string lines smolder and strike like heat lightning around Krissy Bergmark’s tabla grooves. RIYL Pieta Brown, Kris Delmhorst and Caroline Spence.