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Folk - Released February 24, 2017 | Nonesuch

Booklet
Rhiannon Giddens has always been keenly aware of the arc of American history -- the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the 2000s band she once led, was designed as a critique of the darker moments of Americana -- but Freedom Highway, her second solo album, puts her intent into perspective. Where her 2015 solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, was essentially a covers album, gaining its importance through context, Freedom Highway relies on originals, but the past is never far behind. This should be expected from Giddens, who is at her core a folk artist building upon -- and expanding -- tradition, but it's still startling to realize how she establishes a vernacular at the outset of Freedom Highway, then explores all of the possibilities of African-American folk music on the album. "At the Purchaser's Option," the song that inaugurates Freedom Highway, explicitly evokes slavery, and it's spare and haunting, standing in contrast to the title-track closer, a funky number that illustrates how far African-Americans have traveled during the course of the history of the United States. Throughout Freedom Highway, Giddens plays with this idea -- how oppression gave way to freedom -- and it's not just through her lyrics, but how the music expands as the album reaches its conclusion: at the outset, it seems austere, but by its conclusion it's a robust celebration of all the weird, wonderful parts of America. This isn't an accident. Freedom Highway draws upon deep American traditions, and while its form may be a throwback, it speaks to a time when the phrase "Black Lives Matter" can be seen as controversial and, in doing so, it illustrates how these issues are deeply ingrained in American life and cannot be forgotten. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Folk - Released February 24, 2017 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet
Rhiannon Giddens has always been keenly aware of the arc of American history -- the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the 2000s band she once led, was designed as a critique of the darker moments of Americana -- but Freedom Highway, her second solo album, puts her intent into perspective. Where her 2015 solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, was essentially a covers album, gaining its importance through context, Freedom Highway relies on originals, but the past is never far behind. This should be expected from Giddens, who is at her core a folk artist building upon -- and expanding -- tradition, but it's still startling to realize how she establishes a vernacular at the outset of Freedom Highway, then explores all of the possibilities of African-American folk music on the album. "At the Purchaser's Option," the song that inaugurates Freedom Highway, explicitly evokes slavery, and it's spare and haunting, standing in contrast to the title-track closer, a funky number that illustrates how far African-Americans have traveled during the course of the history of the United States. Throughout Freedom Highway, Giddens plays with this idea -- how oppression gave way to freedom -- and it's not just through her lyrics, but how the music expands as the album reaches its conclusion: at the outset, it seems austere, but by its conclusion it's a robust celebration of all the weird, wonderful parts of America. This isn't an accident. Freedom Highway draws upon deep American traditions, and while its form may be a throwback, it speaks to a time when the phrase "Black Lives Matter" can be seen as controversial and, in doing so, it illustrates how these issues are deeply ingrained in American life and cannot be forgotten. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£7.49
£6.49

Folk - Released November 27, 2015 | Nonesuch

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Released in late 2015 as a sort of companion piece to her full-length solo debut from earlier in the year, Rhiannon Giddens' Factory Girl EP offers an additional five tracks of defiantly reinvented folk, blues, country, and even Celtic music. Recorded with T-Bone Burnett during the same sessions that produced the acclaimed Tomorrow Is My Turn, the Carolina Chocolate Drops frontwoman feels right at home on the brassy blues of "That Lonesome Road" and the jazzy "Underneath the Harlem Moon," though her rum-running-inspired original track, "Moonshiner's Daughter," is the obvious highlight of this brief set. While Giddens' fearless attempt at a traditional Gaelic vocal style on "Mouth Music" feels like a bit of a stumble, this EP is, for the most part, a worthy addendum to her excellent debut. ~ Timothy Monger

Folk - Released November 27, 2015 | Nonesuch

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Folk - Released February 9, 2015 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet
Stepping away from the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens teams up with producer T-Bone Burnett for her 2015 solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn. Giddens previously worked with Burnett on Lost on the River, an album where musicians added new music to lyrics Bob Dylan left behind during The Basement Tapes, and she also appeared in a concert he shepherded for the Coen brothers' folk revival opus Inside Llewyn Davis -- two projects steeped in history, as is Tomorrow Is My Turn. Here, Giddens expands upon the neo-string band of the Carolina Chocolate Drops by crafting an abbreviated and fluid history of 20th century roots music -- along with the older forms that informed it -- concentrating on songs either written or popularized by female musicians. As a torchbearer, not a revivalist, Giddins isn't concerned with replicating either the sound or feel of the past, so she comfortably slips a subdued hip-hop drum loop into "Black Is the Color," a standard here credited to Nina Simone, and blurs country and soul boundaries on Patsy Cline's "She's Got You." These two are the most overt tamperings with tradition but Giddens is sly throughout Tomorrow Is My Turn, giving Elizabeth Cotten's "Shake Sugaree" a deceptively lively little lilt and casting Dolly Parton's "Don't Let It Trouble Your Mind" as a rolling progressive folk tune that creates an invisible bridge between past and present. Much of Giddens' work on Tomorrow Is My Turn demonstrates the benefits of such careful, deliberate sculpting, making it a nice fit for Burnett's handsome acoustica. Thankfully, the austereness that sometimes creeps into T-Bone's new millennial work is nowhere to be found; there's a warmth that radiates from Giddens, which is crucial to the success of the record. Her easy, welcoming touch is a balm every time Tomorrow Is My Turn is played, but it's upon successive spins that the intricacies of Giddens' construction -- not to mention her subtle political messages -- begin to take hold. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Folk - Released February 6, 2015 | Nonesuch

Booklet

Pop - Released January 30, 2015 | Nonesuch

Folk - Released January 21, 2015 | Nonesuch

Folk - Released December 15, 2014 | Nonesuch