MOSES SUMNEY, Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar): 4 Stars

Is liberation to be found in avoiding “love” as it’s popularly sentimentalized? That nonconformist proposition’s floated by Ghana-reared, LA-based Sumney, sounding like both Prince and onetime boss Sufjan Stevens while crooning in seductive falsetto above artfully sculpted electronic soundscapes dabbed with flute, harp, and R&B. After unsettling setpiece “Doomed” (“If lovelessness is godlessness/ Will you cast me to the wayside?”), acoustic guitar introduces hopeful notes with the hooky “Indulge Me” (“All my old lovers have found others/ I was lost in the rapture”) and “Self-Help Tape” (“Imagine feeling free/ Imagine feeling”), but Sumney’s movingly layered, sometimes disembodied vocals haunt.

ROADCASE ROYALE, First Things First (Loud & Proud): 3 Stars

In its best moments, Nancy Wilson’s smoothly produced post-Heart venture with vocalist Liv Warfield (formerly of Prince’s New Power Generation) lets Wilson stretch out on guitar while hitting Heart’s empowering-anthem sweet spot. “Get Loud” sets the defiantly rocking tone, its message essentially reprised with gospel-kissed closer “Never Say Die.” The material is uneven but the band flexes well-muscled performance chops, delivering funkier, soulful takes on Heart’s “Even It Up” and “These Dreams,” plus a live track, “Mind Your Business,” that demonstrates Warfield’s more than mere substitute for Wilson’s powerhouse sister.

THE SINGER AND THE SONGWRITER, Directions (self-released): 3 Stars

Former Eagle Rock residents Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran diversify their spare folk-jazz, augmenting Tran’s guitar, autoharp and banjo with drums, piano, trumpet and violin. “Show Me the Mountain” most effectively dramatizes the emotional space in their ear-pleasing tunes, rocking the titular exhortation with heavy drums and call-and-response vocals. Elsewhere, Garcia’s sultry alto digs heats the soul swagger of “Give Love,” while the swooping harmonies and anthemic chorus (“Let’s go, let’s go”) of “Anywhere, Everywhere” (“We got the car packed with dreams”) convey the hard-touring duo’s all-in gamble on music.

SOUNDING ARROW, Loving is Breathing  (California Country): 3½ Stars

Truth and Salvage Co. guitarist Scott Kinnebrew’s solo project blends the sweet melodic flow of rustic, ’70s-era Topanga Canyon jams with Laurel Canyon harmonies and lyrical salve for listeners’ worried minds. “We are alive/ Everyone is evolving/ … All we need’s a little contact here,” he offers on “Universe.” The title track’s wholehearted bohemian sentiment’s similarly bracketed by the hopeful messages of “Summertime” (“Hold on, people, ’cause it’s almost summertime again”) and “Beautiful Life” (“Late last night a voice outside my window said/ ‘Love is still the answer’”). With beautifully fingerpicked guitars, it washes over easy as Pacific waves at sunset.