Jon Batiste. His monumental new album, We Are, is on our shortlist of the best new albums out on March 19.

Louis Browne/Courtesy of the artist

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Louis Browne/Courtesy of the artist

Pianist and composer Jon Batiste is perhaps best known as the bandleader on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where he’s loved as much for his comical banter as he is for his gleeful performances. His monumental new album, We Are, shows another side, with profound reflections on race and identity in America and a soul-stirring mix of gospel, jazz , funk and more. Features include a New Orleans marching band, a gospel choir, novelist Zadie Smith, Trombone Shorty and others. We open this week’s New Music Friday with the album’s title cut and talk about why, as WBGO’s Nate Chinen says, “this is the album we’ve been waiting for from Jon Batiste.”

Also, on the program: Country legend Loretta Lynn returns with a mix of originals and newly recorded standards for her fiftieth studio album, plus rapper Benny the Butcher, the euphoric Sydney rock band Middle Kids, the DJ and producer Vegyn and more. Nate Chinen of WBGO and Jazz Night in America joins NPR’s Lars Gotrich, contributors Jewly Hight and Christina Lee, Radio Milwaukee’s Tarik Moody and NPR’s Stephen Thompson, along with host Robin Hilton as they share their picks for the best new albums out on March 19.

Featured Albums:

  1. Jon Batiste — We Are
    Featured Song: “We Are”
  2. Loretta Lynn — Still Woman Enough
    Featured Song: “You Ain’t Woman Enough”
  3. Melissa Carper — Daddy’s Country Gold
    Featured Song: “Makin’ Memories”
  4. Vegyn — Like A Good Old Friend
    Featured Song: “I See You Sometimes”
  5. Benny The Butcher — The Plugs I Met 2
    Featured Song: “Live By It”
  6. Middle Kids — Today We’re The Greatest
    Featured Song: “R U 4Me”
  7. Colin Miller — Hook
    Featured Song: “From the Other Room”
  8. Maria DeHart — Quarantunes
    Featured Song: “In My Head”
  9. New Pagans — The Seed, The Vessel, Roots And All
    Featured Song: “Christian Boys”

Other notable releases for March 19: Alex Somers — Siblings and Siblings 2; A.A. Williams — Songs From Isolation; Lana Del Rey — Chemtrails Over The Country Club; Landlady — Landlady; Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin — $mokebreak.