KEB’ MO’, Oklahoma (Concord): ***

The Grammy-winning bluesman’s latest album balances feel-good love songs with meatier tales. The first half’s the most compelling. “Put a Woman in Charge,” a feminist pop-rocker with Rosanne Cash, was heard during midterm election campaigns, while the deceptively cheery “Don’t Throw It Away” references plastic pollution (“The face of this planet … could use just a little plastic surgery”). The warmly uplifting “This is My Home” speaks to the political moment in an acoustic arrangement underscoring the humanity of its immigrant characters; unlike sappy closer “Beautiful Music,” its sweetness feels earned. kebmo.com

SIMBA BAUMGARTNER, Les Yeux Noirs (Arte Boreal): ****

The rare exhilaration in this 21-year-old French guitarist’s playing evokes his great-grandfather, gypsy jazz pioneer Django Reinhardt — lineage that happily transcends novelty. Choice material from Reinhardt’s oeuvre includes a seven-and-a-half-minute romp through “Dark Eyes,” an intoxicating “Nuages,” and a “Blues Mineur” punctuated with zesty clarinet and drum solos. Vibrantly produced by countryman Stephane Wrembel, whose longtime combo offers crisp support, even well-worn chestnuts from Reinhardt’s repertoire like “All of Me” and “September Song” sound refreshed by Baumgartner’s joie de vivre. Recommended if gypsy jazz is your thing and you love to swing. Facebook.com/simba.baumgartner

GARY NICHOLSON, The Great Divide (Blue Corn): ****

You needn’t share his politics to appreciate the veteran songwriter’s mastery of groove, melody and wit, or the diamond-like clarity of his sketches of human nature at its messiest. Small wonder Buddy Guy, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt record his songs. Here Nicholson mines the blues-country-soul nexus with ace players like guitarist John Jorgenson, while poking the national psyche’s tenderest scars with the swampy, racism-themed “Blues in Black and White,” “God Help America” (a moving duet with Ruthie Foster), the heartrending soldier’s ode “Nineteen,” wisecracking “Trickle Down,” and hopeful anthem “We Are One.” A keeper. garynicholson.com

GREG FELDEN, Made of Strings (self-released): ***½

Questions are asked throughout this LA songwriter’s first full-length album, but they’re often rhetorical, like he’s tallying accounts. Felden’s an intelligent songwriter with a buoying sense of melody influenced by ’70s singer-songwriter pop; he’s also self-aware, wiser for being wounded. His emotional honesty’s piercing whether recalling a relationship’s demise during the stormy “Tell Me What’s Broken” (“There’s something not open/ In the words that you’ve spoken”), negotiating persistent “Ghosts,” or waxing philosophical on the hooky “When the Change Comes” (“Tell me where will all the ragged people go/ To the high ground, to the low?”). RIYL Joe Pug, Jim Croce. gregfelden.com