ÓLAFUR ARNALDS, re:member (Mercury): ****

Utilizing his algorithm-driven Stratus technology, which connects a keyboard to two player pianos, the Icelandic composer melds live and electronic sounds throughout a collection distinctly cheerier than his stunning “Broadchurch” score. Melancholy drifts through, but there’s more light than dark even on such elegantly dramatic pieces as the watery “inconsist” and the title track, which swells from solo piano to a crescendo of strings, percussion and synths that suddenly vaporizes. “ekki hugsa” recalls elements of Dario Marianelli’s “Atonement” theme, while “brot,” constructed around a four-note pattern, mysteriously suggests worlds via shimmering space. Loveliest of all’s the unadorned piano melody of “saman”; its sweetness lingers. At the Orpheum in Downtown LA Friday, Feb. 2. olafurarnalds.com/

MICHAEL FRANTI, Stay Human, Vol. II (Boo Boo Wax): ***

Franti’s brilliant concept album “Stay Human” hit 2001 like a bomb, cross-wiring soul, funk, hip-hop, rock and spoken vignettes in a searing indictment of the death penalty. The charismatic artist’s social activism hasn’t flagged since, but reggae bounce and acoustic pop textures have softened his politically conscious raps; there’s nothing like “Rock the Nation” calling listeners to action. Instead, loving tracks like “When the Sun Begins to Shine” and “The Flower” (“In a world so divided/ We shall overcome/ We could be the healing/ We can be the flower in the gun”) seem designed to lift spirits (and voices) with hopeful choruses. Franti’s “Stay Human” documentary’s streaming on Amazon. At the El Rey in LA Thursday, Feb. 7. michaelfranti.com

JULIANA HATFIELD, Weird (American Laundromat): ***

The ’90s indie-rock veteran celebrates solitude’s rejuvenating virtues in a perpetually connected world. Sturdy pop hooks, angular guitars and thwacking beats sustain musical interest as Hatfield’s lyrics serve thoughtful sustenance to fans who prefer introspection to party patter. Highlights: “Staying In,” “Sugar,” “It’s So Weird” (“‘Don’t you ever need someone to put your arms around’/ I said, ‘Hey, there is no replacement for what is gone’”). julianahatfield.com


Four rustic songs exalting seasons, change, and the loyal companionship of a “Damn Good Dog.” The title track charms with its call-and-response gospel setting and straightforward tally of loss (“I’ve been drinking my coffee with lonesome these days/ As I stare in the field where she would run/ Where the cattle are fat and the rising sun”). Nothing’s precious about Taylor’s everyman delivery, or his storytelling. RIYL Guy Clark, John Prine. At Love Song Bar in Downtown LA Thursday, Feb. 7. willyteataylor.com