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When this first arrived I played it in the car stereo for three days solid. Both my wife and I (who are both big fans of her work and performances) were a little underwhelmed. None of the tracks immediately hit us as was the case with her solo work and with the Carolina Chocolate Drops.It felt a little dry in comparison and Francesco didn't seem to be adding anything unique.
However last night I moved it onto my HiFi system and played it at quite a high volume. This transformed the record as I started to pick out more and more layers and depth in the music and I really started to enjoy it. I played it again today and got even more into it. I really took to "Trees on the mountains" and "Brown Baby".
Strangely when I played track two "The letter" on a newish Marantz player and then a slightly older Tascam machine the track sounded almost "scratchy" and indistinct - I wasn't sure if Francesco was playing some kind of "treble-ly" percussion instrument. Later I tried it on my computer CD drive and this track just kept skipping and jumping, even after giving the CD a clean. I am left wondering if mine is a disc that is faulty in some way.
I can feel that the record will grow on me more which is a good job as we have already booked tickets to see them perform together in Liverpool in November. Her talent still shines through and we are looking forward to hearing these tracks live.
The track record of Rhiannon Giddens reveals someone in a constant state of reinventing herself with other artists and bands which have consistently produced a high standard of diverse sounds and a voice to treasure. Arguably, this is not her most accessible album, as she partners with Francesco Turrisi, and it will necessitate several listens before the penny drops. The tracks are a combination of self-penned, partnerships, covers and traditional songs yet only three musicians contributing with Kate Ellis guesting on cello and viola. The eclectic sounds which emanate from the different types of banjos, drums and other stringed instruments are something to behold. There are two instrumentals and one song sung in a dialect from Puglia which reflects the tremendous diversity of sound on this album. There is clearly a strong history and identity particularly from Rhiannon’s background which has influenced all her end products and a voice which majestically carries all the songs to such a high level of quality. ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ is a slightly faster / alternative version than you might be expecting but you will warm to it. The final track is almost like an anthem to whatever religion you care to choose so personal application will work whichever you identify with or even none! It is hard to restrict Ms. Giddens to one particular genre as she clearly crosses them all but this album is more folk than country as some would define her. The connoisseur of music will love this offering but prepare to be stretched.
I don't usually review books or music, preferring to leave it to others more qualified. My opinions are my own - but I have to make an exception here. The one-star review below appears based largely on technology and does a stunning album a huge injustice. Rhiannon Giddens is one of America's most talented and original musicians, whether working with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, interpreting Bob Dylan lyrics or releasing her own albums. This collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi finds her exploring new directions - blending African and Arabic rhythms with traditional sounds from America, on instruments old and new. Add Giddens' soaring vocals, which seem to get better with each album, and - imho - you have a contender for album of the year.
Bought Freedom Highway and Tomorrow is my Turn first and think they give a wonderful taste of Rhiannon's vocals. This has a more instrumental style and is an excellent album in its own right closer to the Carolina Chocolate Drops. To be honest, I have only recently discovered Rhiannon Giddens and think she is absolutely amazing. The key recommendation is, if she if singing on a record, buy it.
I was surprised at the (first) moderate review this has received. I must confess that, for me, Rhiannon can do no wrong but she maintains her high standard on this recording, and there's a good mix of songs.
(Only) four stars because no recording gets near the experience of hearing her live. She is a 'must see' for me when she returns to the UK later this year.
Bought this in anticipation of seeing the two main artists live in concert - seeing the live show certainly helped as Giddens and Turrisi were exceptional on the night and this album reflects their work which is of the highest quality.
Ive followed the fantastic Rhiannon G for many years- why is she not better known?
As always Rhiannon Giddens sings beautifully and the accompanying percussion and African instruments are brilliantly and excitingly recorded with first rate pressing on good weight vinyl.I cannot recommend this record highly enough.