Nate Chinen's treatise on the subject of jazz in the 21st century, Playing Changes, is erudite, passionate, and downright inspiring.
Viewing Aretha Franklin's work through a focus on race, gender, and other categories of analysis can challenge us to do the same with all music, acknowledging how multiple points of oppression and privilege impact the production, consumption, and reception of a wide range of music.
Robert Christgau is the rare critic who can write insightfully and passionately about a sweaty performance by a popular Congolese soukous band and a magisterial show by Senegal's Youssou N'Dour. That magic is captured in his latest anthology, Is It Still Good to Ya?
We should take seriously indie rock trends driven by nostalgia— the revival of white rock forms, the whitewashing of disco and yacht rock, and the rise of normcore—as what they are: conservative gestures flying under the radar in a climate of poptimist reappraisal.