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Ayo: Joyful (Polydor)

Ayo: Joyful (Polydor)

The background to this itinerant singer-songwriter would make a good if slightly grim novel: she was born in Germany to a Nigerian father and a Romany mother; grew up in a gypsy community; spent time in Nigeria as a child; came back to Europe and mother became a junkie; ended up in London at 21; moved between New York and Paris; started singing...

Marcio Faraco: Invento (Harmonia Mundi/Ode)

Marcio Faraco: Invento (Harmonia Mundi/Ode)

Okay, back in Brazil there are probably hundreds of guys just like Faraco, good looking singer-guitarists who can hush a busy cafe with their sensitive, feather-light songs and hypnotic, acoustic playing. But that should take nothing away from this gentle album which seemed to be everything I disliked -- slightly smug self-assurance, songs...

Lizz Wright: The Orchard (Verve)

Lizz Wright: The Orchard (Verve)

We aren't short of soulful women singers right now, but few deliver with such blues gravitas and sensual authority as this Georgia-raised New Yorker whose two previous albums on Verve announced her as one of the rare ones. Most black (and a few white) women singers who sing with an ache are hailed as the new Billie Holiday (Corinne Bailey...

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