Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, Mar 20th, 2015

Rhiannon Giddens: Tomorrow Is My Turn

RGRhiannon Giddens
Tomorrow Is My Turn
(Nonesuch Records)

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Rhiannon Giddens is an artist who thrives in the margins. This founding member of The Carolina Chocolate Drops has come into her own with her first solo album, the haunting Tomorrow Is My Turn. Folk meets R&B, country meets Celtic, and Southern rock meets the blues. Giddens’ voice is the instrument that unites these genres as she breezes gracefully through a beautiful collection of songs written and/or made famous by female singers who came before her.

Giddens nails the most important rule of covering a song: always make the new version different enough from the original so it deserves to exist on its own. Her interpretation of Dolly Parton’s “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” is subdued, but still shows the strength of a woman walking away from an unhealthy relationship. “She’s Got You,” popularized by Patsy Cline, receives a swinging R&B touch that makes it sound like a track straight out of the 1950s. Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head” has a revival spirit so uplifting that you can picture a gospel choir joining in the praise. The classic “Black is the Color” receives new lyrics, changing the lament into a romantic ode with an electronic beat and funky vibe.

Most touching though is the final track, the Giddens original “Angel City.” The lovely, string-tinged acoustic track has lyrics that could be interpreted as her trying to cast off emotional baggage and find guidance in her personal and professional life, or they could read as praise for the women who wrote the songs that shape this album. This is Giddens at her most subdued, but also vulnerable. It’s a fittingly tender and optimistic end to an album so full of the blues.

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Rhiannon Giddens: Tomorrow Is My Turn