Beyoncé’s ‘Break My Soul,’ and 12 More New Songs

The first song from Beyoncé’s album due July 29, “Renaissance,” has a clubby house beat and an attitude that equates defiant self-determination with salvation. She and her co-producers, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, work two chords and a four-on-the-floor thump into a constantly changing track. They sampled shouted advice — “Release your anger! Release your mind! Release your job! Release the time!” — from “Explode” by the New Orleans bounce rapper Big Freedia. Beyoncé extrapolates from there: joining the Great Resignation, building “my own foundation,” insisting on love and self-love, facing every obstacle with the pledge that “You won’t break my soul.” When she invokes the soul, a gospel choir arrives to affirm her inner strength her, as if anyone could doubt it. JON PARELES

A kind of living cartoon character in his own right, the charismatic bassist Thundercat is a natural fit in the Gorillaz universe — so much so that it’s almost surprising he’s never collaborated with them before. Thundercat’s insistent bass line and backing vocals add a funky jolt to the group’s “Cracker Island,” a sleek and summery jam that happens to be about … a made-up cult? Thankfully the tune doesn’t get bogged down by anything too conceptual, though, and invites the listener to simply lock into its blissed-out groove. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

The Memphis-based vocalist Elizabeth King once seemed headed toward gospel stardom. In the early 1970s, she and a group of all-male backing singers, the Gospel Souls, scored a radio hit and won the Gospel Gold Cup award, presented by the city’s gospel DJs But then King stepped back, spending decades raising 15 children; her public performances her were limited to singing on a weekly gospel radio program. It was n’t until last year that King, now in her 70s, released her first full album her, the impressive “Living in the Last Days.” She returns this week with “I Got a Love.” On the title track, King reprises the sultry style of praise-singing that she had perfected in the 1970s, telling us about her rock-sturdy romance with God over a slow and savory tempo. Behind her, a tube-amplified guitar slices out riffs, an organ alternates between full chords and long rests, and a heavy, pushing bass keeps the band’s muscles flexed. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

The title track from Amanda Shires’s upcoming album is a poetic and provocative torch song enlivened by an electrifying vocal performance. Featuring her husband and her Jason Isbell on guitar, “Take It Like a Man” is a sweeping ballad that continuously builds in blistering intensity — sort of like something Shires’s Highwomen bandmate Brandi Carlile might release. But the song is a showcase for the unique power of Shires ‘s voice her, which is both nervy and tremblingly vulnerable at the same time. “I know the cost of flight is landing,” she sings as the melody ascends ever higher, “and I know I can take it like a man.” ZOLADZ

“Carolina,” from the soundtrack to the forthcoming movie “Where the Crawdads Sing,” holds the distinction of being one of the spookiest songs in the Taylor Swift catalog; save for “No Body, No Crime,” it’s the closest she’s come to writing an outright murder ballad. Co-produced with Aaron Dessner, “Carolina” sounds of a piece with Swift’s folky pair of 2020 releases: The arrangement begins with just a sparsely strummed acoustic guitar that eventually swells into a misty atmosphere with the addition of strings and banjo. As on her 2015 single “Wildest Dreams,” there’s a hint of Lana Del Rey’s influence as Swift digs into her breathy lower register to intone ominously, “There are places I will never go, and things that only Carolina will ever know.” ZOLADZ

“Canção da Cura” (“Song of Healing”) from the Brazilian songwriter Sessa’s new album, “Estrela Acesa” (“Burning Star”), hints at some clandestine ritual. In his gentle tenor his, Sessa sings, “To the sound of the drums I ‘ll consume you.” Acoustic guitars and percussion set up an intricate mesh of syncopation, and in his gentle tenor his, with hushed backup vocals overhead, Sessa sings, “To the sound of the drums I ‘ll consume you.” It’s a brief glimpse of a mystery. PARELES

After a decade of other projects, the wildly virtuosic, conundrum-slinging guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López and the singer and lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala have reunited as the Mars Volta, with a tour to start in September and a new song: “Blacklight Shine .” It’s a six-beat, bilingual rocker, full of complex percussion and scurrying guitar lines, with lyrics like, “the high control hex he obsessively pets with his thumbs/thinking no one’s watching but I got the copy that he can never erase.” But unlike many of Mars Volta’s past efforts, this one strives for catchiness, and its rolling rhythm and harmony vocals hint, unexpectedly, at Steely Dan, another band that tucked musical and verbal feats behind pop hooks. An extended “short film” connects the song’s underlying beat to the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of Puerto Rican bomba. PARELES

Commitment is an iffy thing; in “Watawi,” the Nigerian singers CKay and Davido and the South African rapper Focalistic stay evasive when girlfriends ask “What are we?” CKay suavely croons a non-answer: “We are what we are.” Keeping things up in the air is the production by Abidoza from South Africa, which hovers around a syncopated one-note pulse as it fuses the cool keyboard chords of South African amapiano with crisp Afrobeats percussion. In its final minute, the track introduces a fiddle that could easily lead to a whole new phase of the relationship. PARELES

There’s something wonderfully uncanny about the music of Philadelphia’s Alex G. His songs often gesture toward familiar sounds and textures — “Runner,” from his forthcoming album “God Save the Animals” bears a melodic resemblance to, of all things, Soul Asylum’s early ‘ 90s anthem “Runaway Train”— but their gradual accumulation of small, idiosyncratic sonic details produce an overall sense of strangeness. “Runner” initially sounds like warm, pleasant alt-rock pastiche, but before it can lull the listener into nostalgia, the song suddenly erupts with unruly emotion: “I have done a couple bad things,” Alex sings a few times with increasing desperation , before letting out a thrillingly unexpected scream. ZOLADZ

Exile comes in many forms — sometimes it’s spiritual, sometimes it’s literal. The pop-rap phenom Lil Nas X recently took umbrage — seriously or not, who can tell — at not being nominated for a BET Award at this year’s ceremony. YoungBoy Never Broke Again remains on house arrest, one of rap’s most popular figures but one who’s achieved that success without the participation of traditional tastemakers. Together, they share the kinship of outsiders, even if they never quite align on this song, which is notionally aimed at BET; the video features a clip of someone urinating on a BET Award trophy. They are radically different artists — two different rapping styles, two different subject matter obsessions, two different levels of seriousness. By the end it feels as if they’re seeking exile from each other. JON CARAMANICA

“What does a girl like me want with you?” the Swedish songwriter Tove Lo asks in “True Romance,” a four-minute catharsis. The track uses only two synthesized chords and a slow pulse, but the vocal is pained, aching and constantly escalating the drama: a desperate human voice trying to escape an electronic grid. PARELES

The composer Rachika Nayar explores the textural and orchestral possibilities of electric guitar and digital processing: effects, loops, layering. Much of her work has been meditative, and so is the beginning of “Heaven Come Crashing,” with shimmering, sustained washes of guitar and abstract vocals from Maria BC. But there’s a surprise midway through: a hurtling drumbeat kicks in, and what had been a weightless drift is suddenly a warp-speed surge forward. PARELES

In an alternate universe, the release of new music from the tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton and the drummer Eric McPherson would be a major event. Both are Gen X jazz eminences, and across decades playing together, their styles have grown in complement to one another. Burton holds long notes in a strong but wavery yowl or shoots out notes in string-like bursts, conveying a wounded tenderness in spite of all that volume and power. McPherson has a relatively gentle touch on the drums, but still channels the earth-moving polyrhythmic force of Elvin Jones. Last summer, these longtime musical partners gave a concert, joined by the bassist Dezron Douglas, as part of Giant Step Arts’ outdoor series at the old Seneca Village site in Central Park. The performance closed with “Will Never Be Forgotten,” a lament with a descending bass line and a melody that winds downward like a teardrop. A full recording of the concert was released on Juneteenth, as “The Summit Rock Session at Seneca Village.” RUSSONELLO

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