Mary J. Blige’s Daily Affirmation and 12 More New Songs



Once again, Mary J. Blige fights and overcomes doubt. “I’m so tired of feeling empty,” she sings in a gritty croon over a slow-rolling vintage-style soul track, encouraged by a moody string arrangement. But she has the solution: look at herself in the mirror every morning with assertiveness: “Hello, beautiful. She adds, “I’m not talking about not doing my hair or putting on makeup / I’m talking as soon as I wake up.” The video makes it clear that she wakes up in a mansion, toned and jeweled, far from “all the times I’ve hated myself.” JON PARELES

“Jupiter’s Dance” is an exercise in tenderness. It’s a welcome departure for Alynda Segarra, who usually does warm folk-punk as Hurray for the Riff Raff, here trading grain for cosmic reverie. In a whisper, Segarra coos: “Seven revolutions around the sun / Blessings on our way, it’s just beginning. The video juxtaposes celestial images from NASA with found footage of people dancing to the Afro-Puerto Rican genres bomba and plena. It is a galactic prayer, a belief in the promise of the future, rooted in the vitality of the past. ISABELIA HERRERA

Released on Thanksgiving Day, “Another Day in America” borrows “America” from “West Side Story,” anticipating the release of Steven Spielberg’s remake next week. On a syncopated guitar and a boom-bap rhythm, Kali Uchis sings and raps in English, keeping his cheerful tone but without mince words: “Say ‘land of the free’ / But the land was always volé. Ozuna, from Puerto Rico, sings raps in Spanish, declaring: “Quisiera tumbar las fronteras de México a Nigeria”: “I would like to bring down the borders from Mexico to Nigeria. It’s a conversation starter. PARÉLES

Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora has announced that her next album, slated for January 21, will be titled “The Gods We Can Touch”, and on “Heathens” she sings Eve, Eden and Falling from Grace to a Lifetime on Mother Earth. It’s a shimmering production on the big screen, with harp sounds, Aurora’s choir harmonies and a seismic rhythm that comes and goes. It is also a warning that Heaven was lost. “Everything we touch is bad,” sings Aurora. “This is why we live like pagans.” PARÉLES

Recently “semi-separate” billionaire Tesla Elon Musk, with whom she has a child, Grimes (Claire Boucher) coos club-ready recriminations in “Player of Games”, which she sometimes sings as “play your love games”. On a quick house track written and produced with Illangelo, she asks questions like “Baby, will you still love me?” And “How do I compare to the adventure out there?” as the arpeggios are repeated and the four ground strikes resonate. “If I liked him less, I would make him stay,” she says, teasing the gossip-industrial complex. PARÉLES

A wacky and sexually playful disco hymn by Kim Petras, which advocates, one might say, a sort of fruit above all else: “Strawberry, mango, lime / doesn’t compare to these.” JON CARAMANICA

Kerozen, from Ivory Coast, praises the hard and diligent work in “Motivation,” but the song provides instant gratification nonetheless. A galloping six-beat groove carries an exulting close harmony, punctuated by snares and bursts of simulated synths and horns – pure positive energy. PARÉLES

The latest find from the tireless crate diggers at Analog africa is “Essiebon Special 1973-1984: Ghana Power House”, from the archives of the Essiebons and Dix labels. It’s Ghanaian highlife swollen with funk, Afrobeat, synthesizers and psychedelia, like “Ahwene Pa Nkasa”, a groove that materializes from a funk backbeat, turns into a talkative and competitive stereo dialogue between two synthesizer keyboards and ends up answering his call. – and vocal response, fading away before the chorus is over. PARÉLES

A great casually rhyming workout from Cordae, who revere 1990s complexity – “Eight months without a phone, dog / we’re aiming for shine” – and Lil Wayne, who at his mixtape peak of the late 2000s, whose he remembers here, became complexity in the alien. CARAMANIC

A strategically placed change of pace is more than a secret weapon: it can turn a standard rap track into a delicious deviance. Elado Carrión’s “Socio” opens with a moving piano intro and snare rhythm reminiscent of something that Drake’s go-to producer Noah “40” Shebib could pull off his hard drive. But before long, beards arrive. A muted echo of Russell Crowe’s infamous “Gladiator” line “Aren’t you having fun? Crashes into the production, and a muscular thumping of the speakers unraveled. Guest rapper Luar la L shoots punchlines like silver bullets, his full-throated baritone landing each with jagged precision. HERRERA

A fine old-fashioned power country duo, with references to the dark workday, a high speed car, and the high power intensity of a poorly carved love. CARAMANIC

The Village Vanguard is where bassist Christian McBride first performed, over a decade ago, with Inside Straight, which has become perhaps jazz’s most distinguished acoustic quintet. McBride’s last outing with Inside Straight, “Live at the Village Vanguard,” was recorded there years later, in 2014, during another week-long run. “Gang Gang,” written by vibraphonist Warren Wolf, is the album’s longest and most intense track. The band focuses on the heavy, spiraling swing of drummer Carl Allen, and Wolf takes on a solo full of combed bluesy notes, painting a cloud of energy in pointillist hits. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Portuguese singer Sara Serpa draws an etched, mute line as Sofîa Rei and Aubrey Johnson surround her with their own sung melodies, and ambient street sounds gargle below. Soon Serpa begins to sing lyrics from Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma’s book, “A Stranger’s Pose”, about his travels across the African continent: “I can recite distances by heart, feet, memory / I can say that the urge to travel is rounded like the eyes, “she sings. Then Iduma’s voice enters, accompanied by pianist Matt Mitchell, reading a passage about the power of language to create a space “between reality and dream”. “First Song” opens Serpa and Iduma’s impressive new collaborative album, “Intimate Strangers,” a collage of his swimming melodies and lyrics – many of which describe the experiences of workers seeking their destiny on the road, sometimes heading towards north to Europe, but in many cases they are waiting for something to change around them. RUSSONELLO

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