Five songs to hear this week (March 31-April 6)

Crowd pleaser: Rachael Yamagata
Crowd pleaser: Rachael Yamagata

Nelly Furtado is like a bird, she once said, but unlike a bird, she’s now been doing her thing for around 17 years, with her sixth album, The Ride, out today and a video for the funky single Flatline on YouTube. Come to think of it, emperor penguins live about that long, so maybe she meant she’s like a penguin.

Heavily populated grime crew Section Boyz tend to show up on stage at all the right gigs, but aren’t quite ready to join Stormzy in having a number one album. For now they’re continuing to build buzz with a new, free, 19-track mixtape. Soundcheck can be downloaded at

South African producer Spoek Mathambo is stepping away from the microphone to offer an eclectic set of collaborations on his forthcoming third album, Mzansi Beat Code. The latest song to be unveiled, Black Rose, is a hypnotic house thumper featuring vocals from Damao, Suga Flow and Tamar.

Smoky-voiced singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata crowdfunded her fourth album, Tightrope Walker, and released it in the US last September. Now it’s getting a proper release over here, and some of its highlights can be heard in a few Crypt Sessions live versions on YouTube.

Back in 2012, Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner of The National and composer Nico Muhly came to the Barbican to perform a song cycle inspired by the solar system. By this summer the music should finally be available as an album. The lead song, Saturn, has just appeared on Spotify.