Esperanza Spalding’s Latest Surprise, and 10 More New Songs


The ever-surprising bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding persuaded the mystical and ingeniously tuneful Brazilian songwriter Milton Nascimento, 81, to collaborate on a full album that was recorded in 2023 and is due in August. Its preview single is “Outubro” (“October”), a song that Nascimento originally wrote and recorded in the 1960s. Its asymmetrical melody carries lyrics that reflect on solitude, mortality and the possibility of joy. Nascimento no longer has the pure, otherworldly vocal tone of his youth, but Spalding bolsters him, singing in Portuguese alongside him and probing the harmonies with springy bass lines. Near the end, she comes up with a leaping, scat-singing line that he eventually joins, still enjoying what his composition can inspire. JON PARELES

The Brooklyn singer-songwriter Cassandra Jenkins delivers “Delphinium Blue,” the second single from her upcoming third album, “My Light, My Destroyer,” with a slow, cleareyed poise. Among glacially paced synthesizers and gentle percussion, she describes the sensory overload of working in a flower shop, and daydreaming about someone special when business is light. “I see your eyes in the delphinium, too,” she sings, as beauty blooms all around her. “I’ve become a servant to their blue.” LINDSAY ZOLADZ

“We got too much history, so don’t just dispose of me,” Omar Apollo — the bilingual, Indiana-born pop songwriter — begs, in English, in the slow-building but increasingly convincing “Dispose of Me.” At first the song seems to be just a lazy two-chord vamp, but Apollo pleads his case with rising desperation as instruments subtly chime in. “My body just won’t forget,” he moans, going on to insist, “It was real love.” His ex-partner might have a different opinion, but not in this song. PARELES

The Korean-Canadian songwriter Luna Li — Hannah Bussiere Kim — ponders separation and reconciliation in “Confusion Song,” which faces a strained relationship with unanswered questions and ambiguous beats. “I thought we were taking space,” she sings over a drumbeat that can be parsed as a waltz or a march. The uncertainty is built into the structure of the music, even as she asks, “How do you see it?” PARELES

Polyamory gets complicated in this yearning reggae duet. “Don’t be too quick to judge,” the Jamaican singer Lila Iké urges; H.E.R. counters, “You just keep lying to yourself.” Neither of them wanted to “lose a good thing just because,” but that’s all they agree on. The man in question never states his case. PARELES

Rapsody basks in longtime love and potential motherhood in “3:AM,” framed as a late-night phone call; it’s on her new album, “Please Don’t Cry.” Backed by cushy electric-piano chords and a cozy saxophone riff, Rapsody raps, “It’s different when you lovers and you best friends/I feel safe with you,” while in the choruses a kittenish Erykah Badu coos, “Baby you can do it, explore me.” But in the last verse, it turns out that she’s only reliving memories. “We grew with each other till we grew apart,” she reveals. PARELES

Saweetie’s latest single “Nani” is a blast of sing-songy, candy-coated pop that sounds tailor made for summer. “Two shows, one night, what’s that? A hundred-plus,” she boasts on the verse, but otherwise it’s a track more about leisurely strutting one’s stuff than hustling. “I’m bougie, moody, tanning in my Louis,” she raps. “It’s a privilege just to say you knew me.” ZOLADZ

“I still don’t know where I am going/But I have joy in my heart,” the Colombian-Canadian songwriter Lido Pimienta sings in “He Venido al Mar” (“I Have Come to the Sea”), from the soundtrack to “Calladita,” a film by Miguel Faus. She’s making a journey toward renewal, with her guileless soprano sailing above a track that begins with sparse electronic chords and gathers layers of percussion and voices, assembling a cumbia and a community out of thin air. PARELES

SML, a Los Angeles quintet that laces jazz with electronics, bears down on a mechanized one-chord groove in “Industry” from its coming album, “Small Medium Large.” The track surrounds a blipping beat with fertile, relentless improvisation: synthesizer swoops, bass jabs, blotches of noisy guitar, fragments of saxophone melody, drum kit cross-rhythms. At the end, it ratchets down as if a switch was flipped. PARELES

Little Feat, the Los Angeles band whose blues-rock-country-funk hybrid was Americana long before the category was named, takes a break from songwriting on its new album, “Sam’s Place.” It’s a collection of blues covers sung by its percussionist, Sam Clayton. The band dug out deep cuts like “Why Are People Like That” by the Louisiana swamp-rock songwriter Bobby Charles. The band lightens up Charles’s version, switching it from minor to major and summoning a New Orleans strut, underpinned by Bill Payne’s two-fisted piano. But Charles’s bitter complaint about greed is still all too relevant: “They take your house and your home/They take the flesh from your bones,” Clayton growls. “Why people like that?” PARELES

The largehearted Welch rockers Los Campesinos! will release their first album in seven years, “All Hell,” on July 19. The lead single “Feast of Tongues” gradually builds in intensity, stacking clever, wordy lyrics that reference a dizzying hodgepodge of modern cultural touchstones (Bessel van der Kolk and David Berman). “I want the trust of every animal,” the frontman Gareth Paisey sings on the chorus, before promising with nervy defiance, “We will feast on the tongues of the last bootlickers.” ZOLADZ



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