A new album by incarcerated musicians features songs of prison, trauma and hope

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The new album, featuring the group Tenneson assembled, begins with the startling sound of a traditional chant performed by two incarcerated Native Americans, Phillip Archuleta and Gilbert Pacheco. The record proceeds from there in a style its creators refer to as “prog-Americana,” a dreamlike sound tapestry that, while it certainly holds together as an album, can also feel like a bracingly weird, electrifying and raw mix tape. Structurally, the songs are bold — mixtures of balladry, hip-hop, country, soul and blues reside, in some cases, within a single song — and are flavored with instruments as diverse as organ, flute and alto sax. Lyrically, these songs wrestle with the personal and systemic trauma of the marginalized — racism, crack addiction, sexual abuse and mass incarceration — yet consistently the words are buoyed by hope for redemption.

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