Mariposa is the first disc to arrive from new independent Or Music (racked by RED).

Mariposa is the first disc to arrive from new independent Or Music (racked by RED). It's the second disc by San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Essence (the first being the little-heard Conception). At 13 songs, Mariposa—the bulk written, or co-written, by the artist herself—is a bewitching set, replete with layer upon layer of aural sensations (part acoustic, part electronic) just waiting to be discovered and savored. With nods to female contemporaries like India.Arie, Alanis Morissette, Dido, and Sarah McLachlan, Essence remains very much her own artist. Catchy songs like the strummy "Still Crying," the raucous "Little Innocent," the buoyant "Drop of Sunshine," the chilled "Love Is the Price We Pay," and the anthemic "Anything Is Possible" reveal a singer, who, like Madonna, isn't afraid to take musical chances.—MP