MEKLIT, When the People Move the Music Moves Too

(Six Degrees): 3½ STARS

Namechecking Michael Jackson, Aster Aweke, Prince, Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke, Leonard Cohen and John Coltrane on the ebullient “I Want to Sing for Them All,” the Ethiopian-born, Oakland-based artist celebrates her heritage, hybridized culture and influences. Featuring Ethiopian krar (lyre), clattering drums and Andrew Bird’s violin, it’s a standout track on an ambitious outing whose polyrhythmic arrangements often evoke Astatke, James Brown and Fela Kuti. Other highlights: a soulful, saxophone-fired cover of the Roots’ “You Got Me” (one of four tracks featuring Preservation Hall Horns), the rousing “This Was Made Here,” “Sweet or Salty.”


(Kirtland): 3½ STARS

Dreamier than 2014’s “Don’t Disconnect,” the Texas songwriter’s latest album considers awkward ways people form attachments — or don’t. After opening with the ominous “Synthetic Love,” Jaffe brightens with the pulsing “Between” (“Before bitter, before sweet/ Before you drifted off to sleep/ There is a part where the two ends meet/ No one wants to talk about between”), hooky “No Worries,” and teasing R&B grooves of “This/That” and “Hard Act to Follow,” electronic beats bouncing off each other like clouds cushioning her smart, silk-toned ruminations. RIYL Laura Marling, Beth Orton, Goldfrapp.


(New West): 3 STARS

It’s disconcerting to hear the Utah teen wail “I’m Not Your Man” when he isn’t even past high school, but as he’s done on two EPs, the precocious Justin Townes Earle protégé startles with the maturity of his observations and songcraft. His full-length debut, produced by Alabama Shakes keyboardist Ben Tanner and ex-Civil Wars frontman John Paul White and clearly influenced by ’60s pop, impresses with strong writing and graceful guitar playing. Highlights: the beautifully arranged “Once a Lover,” swoony “I Never Said,” “Lay Me Down.”

VARIOUS ARTISTS, Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records

(Americana): 3 STARS

Valerie June, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bobby Rush, and co-producer (with Tamara Saviano) Luther Dickinson are among the Americana artists paying debts of inspirational gratitude to Memphis’ Sun Records and legendary rock ‘n’ roll producer Sam Phillips. Credit a tight house band (Dickinson, drummer brother Cody, guitarist John Paul Keith, bassist Amy LaVere, keyboardist Rick Steff) for spirited sonic consistency throughout 10 handsomely produced tracks, including Shawn Camp’s enjoyable romp through Charlie Rich’s “Lonely Weekends,” LaVere’s jaunty resurrection of the Miller Sisters’ “Ten Cats Down,” and Dickinson’s gritty, extended jam on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Moanin’ at Midnight.”