ALOE BLACC, All Love Everything (BMG): 3½

Love and hope guide the NELA-based artist’s latest album, which, like 2013’s “Lift Your Spirit,” wears its social conscience proudly. Bookended by “Family” and “Harvard,” two uplifting narratives showcasing Blacc’s supple vocals and principled beliefs, this is a more diverse, musically buoyant collection that dips into soul, folk, bossa nova grooves and classic pop songwriting styles. Highlights: earnest piano ballad “I Do” (dedicated to wife Maya Jupiter), hooky anthems “Hold on Tight” and “My Way,” which delivers Blacc’s core themes: “In the darkness I don’t hide ’cause I got pride, that gives me clarity/ I still wake up in the morning with the vision of a better life/ You see the option of defeat is just not written in my story.”

LOS MOCOSOS, All Grown Up (selfreleased): 3

The veteran Bay Area Latin funk-rock-salsa ensemble reconvenes with a mix of celebratory dance tracks (“Viva Los Mocosos”) and pointed messages for this chaotic political season. “There will be a day/ When you let go of hate/ And when you see my face/ You see the human race,” newcomer Juan Ele Perez sings over a slinky groove during lead single “United We Stand,” while the saxophone-threaded “It’s All Good” references threats and changes to the neighborhood with more nostalgic restraint, and the hopeful “Brothers & Sisters” pledges, “We fall together or we fall apart/ A change is coming, I can feel it in my heart.”

FENNE LILY, Breach (Dead Oceans): 3½

The British singer-songwriter’s sophomore album builds moods and tension by setting her hushed, silken contralto against heavily reverbed electric guitar patterns and thrumming synths — an appropriate combination for a journalistic chronicle of a pre-Covid period of voluntary isolation. The twentysomething artist may have been working through relationship and maturity issues, but standout tracks such as the melodic “Berlin,” “Elliott,” “I Used to Hate My Body But Now I Just Hate You” and “Someone Else’s Trees” (“I’m always scared of leaving and then when I arrive/ I’m distracted by existences now parallel to mine”) feel just as true as cathartic responses to a year of forced solitude and loss.


(Rounder): 4

A joyous, deeply musical celebration of love and commitment that soars in the shadow of Ray Charles and the Staple Singers. Tanya Blount-Trotter and husband Michael Trotter Jr. convey the blessings mined from hardship as well as togetherness in the way they robustly support each other’s roof-raising vocals. That signature hallmark of their performances imparts a visceral jolt, notably to the infectious, Motown-style plea “Five More Minutes”; the “Georgia on My Mind”-influenced “Hey Pretty Moon” (composed while Trotter was serving in Iraq); “Beautiful,” a heartbroken rocker about Blount-Trotter’s late mother capped by a fierce Jason Isbell guitar solo; and the MLK-inspired inclusivity anthem “Take Me In,” which offers hope to a world in need.

THE RECKLESS NIGHT ENSEMBLE, ¡Pan-Americanos! The Songs of Raymond Scott & Lalo Guerrero (PanAmerican): 3½

A labor of love from LA guitarist Skip Heller, who supplied transcriptions of the original tunes and crisp, sparkling arrangements that evoke the swinging heyday of the widely beloved Guerrero and early jazz bandleader Scott. A shifting lineup of horn, string and woodwind players join Heller and bassist Nick Ornelas, animating highlights such as Guerrero’s “Vamos A Bailar,” “Sixteen Pounds” (a clever parody of Merle Travis’ country classic “Sixteen Tons” that benefits from vocalist Angelica Villarreal’s precise, knowing intonation), and Scott’s instrumental “Powerhouse” with rhythmic bounce and a discernible sense of fun.,

BONNIE WHITMORE, Last Will and Testament (Starlet & Dog): 4

Luscious pop hooks, a splash of cocktail jazz, a dramatic reading of Centro-Matic’s “Flashes & Cables” and a rocking indictment of those who insist rape victims “Asked for It” make this a powerful, rhythmically varied “Testament” indeed, though hopefully not the last from the Austin-based musician and songwriter. Vocally, Whitmore can shift from bruised sweetness to righteous fury within one vulnerable phrase, and fully owns mistakes that birthed the wisdom tucked into tracks such as “None of My Business,” the stirring soul ballad “Love Worth Remembering” and “Right/Wrong” (“It’s not like you can take it with you/ The life you live and what you can do”).

A LOVE ELECTRIC, Permanent Immigrant (Ropeadope Sur): 3

A more esoteric, rock-oriented outing than the trio’s frequent work with jazz and hip-hop acts might lead listeners to expect, informed by the diverse roots and resumes of Minnesota-raised, Mexico City-based bandleader Todd Clouser, bassist Aarón Cruz and Latin Grammy-winning drummer Hernán Hecht (who also produced). The lean muscularity of “Common Animal,” funk-rocker “Witch” and the title track is counterbalanced by vibier compositions — a slide guitar-embellished “Place in the Game,” the atmospheric “Losing Touch” — that resemble moments of calm before a storm.

ALHOUSSEINI ANIVOLLA & GIRUM MEZMUR, Afropentatonism (Piranha): 3½

A heartening, Saharan blues-infused collaboration between Niger-based Etran Finatawa frontman Anivolla and veteran Ethiopian jazz guitarist Mezmur, recorded at a concert in Nairobi. Singing in Tamshek, Alhousseini implores his beleaguered country’s youth to “protect our peace” (“Algher”), calls for tolerance and unity (the hypnotic “Asmoussoudou”), and leads a spirited call-and-response before an extended jam that ends the eight-and-a-half-minute “Isouwad” on a triumphant note. Tracks such as “Chet Azawad” showcase the graceful contributions of one-stringed Ethiopian violinist Habtamu Yeshambel, Ethiopian krar (five-stringed lyre) player Anteneh Telemariam, mandolinist Ayele Mamo and especially percussionist Misale Legesse. But it’s the chemistry between Anivolla’s almost trance-like vocals and his and Mezmur’s guitars that’s most compelling.