Music

This Side of Jordan, by Mandolin Orange

Another day, another talented Americana songwriter immersed in the language of a faith he doesn’t profess.

Beautiful Africa, by Rokia Traoré

Malian singer, songwriter, and guitarist Rokia Traoré has long blended West African music with occidental influences. Her fifth album, produced by P. J. Harvey collaborator John Parish, features the strongest rock element yet.

Books

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, by John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis

Fall books

How did Julia Ward Howe’s pro–federal Union and abolitionist-inspired “Battle Hymn of the Republic” become the most recognizable American anthem of the 20th century? Why is it embraced by liberals and conservatives, radicals and businesspeople, whites, blacks and beyond?