SANTANA, Africa Speaks (Concord): ****

By rights, Latin Grammy-winning Spanish diva Buika’s name should join Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Carlos Santana’s above the title. The Rick Rubin-produced album is Santana’s most inspired, interesting album in years. But while his playing’s robust, and kudos to percussionist Karl Perazzo and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, as singer and lyricist it is Buika — and, on “Blue Skies,” British R&B singer Laura Mvula — who illuminates the music with fierce soul. Highlights: hypnotic thumper “Los Invisibles” (based on Rachid Taha and Steve Hillage’s “Barra Barra”), “Oye Este Mi Canto,” “Yo Me Lo Merezco.”,

STEVIE REDSTONE, Shot in the Dark (self-released): ***

At its strongest, the LA songwriter’s 10-track offering tips a melodic hat to old-school soul and AM pop radio while honoring generations of separation from the heyday of the Everly Brothers, the Beach Boys, and Motown. The percussion riff opening “Shots Fired” recalls the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” but the song tacks in a slicker, more earnest direction over electric guitar, horns and a raft of background vocals. Highlights: the title track, romantic “Looking Glass,” drought-inspired “Rivers in the Sky.” RIYL Diane Birch, A.J. Croce.

JEMS, JEMS (self-released): **½

Silky, smoothly braided vocals are the musical signature of singer-songwriters Emily Colombier, Jessica Rotter and Sarah Margaret Huff, and may strike listeners as a sunnier counterpart to sibling trio Joseph. The pop country sheen of “Completely” recalls the Wreckers, while the stormy relationship angst of “Middle of the Night” (“I can’t stand you but I can’t stand to be alone”) is calmed by the graceful harmonies of “Master Weaver,” “Right on Time” and CSN’s “Helplessly Hoping.” At Chinatown Summer Nights in Downtown LA Saturday, June 8, and Highland Park Bowl in Highland Park Wednesday, June 12.

ELENI MANDELL, Wake Up Again (Yep Roc): ***½

Restraint’s the most formidable shade in the pop chameleon’s palette and clean melodies. Several songs were inspired by Mandell’s experiences teaching songwriting to women inmates, incisively portrayed in spooky opener “Circumstance,” “Evelyn” and “Box in a Box” (“She’s clever like a fox/ She’s not one to deny it/ But it never mattered half as much/ As a skill for staying quiet”). Mostly midtempo pop daubed with rock and country, the album quietly takes stock; the dreamy “Ghost of a Girl” and title track evoke earlier Mandell recordings: “If I could rewind/ Go back in time/ …Let me go back.” At Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth in LA Sunday, June 9.