Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow Is My Turn – A Review

IMG_1749.JPGListening to Tomorrow Is My Turn took me a little by surprise.

I was expecting something along the lines of her previous work in the Grammy award-winning outfit Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-time string band that provides an energetic take on traditional folk music.  Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and founding member of that outfit, Rhiannon Giddens, has released her solo recording debut on Nonesuch Records/ Warner Music Australia.

Tomorrow Is My Turn was produced by T Bone Burnett, who first worked with Giddens when she performed at a concert he curated at New York City’s Town Hall Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis.” (also now available on Nonesuch/Warner Music Australia).

Giddens has chosen a diverse group of songs and styles – you can hear:

  • blues – “Last Kind Words” (Geeshie Wiley) is a beautiful, soulful chant which features some formidable guitar from Colin Linden and mandolin from Mike Compton
  • country – “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” is a tender cover of a lesser-known Dolly Parton song and “She’s Got You” (Hank Cochran) is delivered beautifully, a nice homage to this classic tune, made famous by Patsy Cline
  • gospel – “Waterboy” (Jacques Wolfe) showcases her powerful vocals in spades, while preserving Odetta’s arrangement of the tune, “Up Above My Head” (Sister Rosetta Tharpe) and “Round About the Mountain” (Traditional, arr. Roland Hayes)
  • jazz – “Tomorrow Is My Turn” (Charles Aznavour/Marcel Stellman/Yves Stéphane), made famous by Nina Simone and “Black Is the Color” (Traditional, arr. Rhiannon Giddens)
  • folk – “Shake Sugaree” (Elizabeth Cotten), “O Love Is Teasin’” (Traditional, arr. Rhiannon Giddens) popularized by the “mother of folk” Jean Ritchie and “Angel City” (Rhiannon Giddens).

But there’s a common, undeniable thread.  The spotlight is well and truly cast on her powerful and versatile voice and the adroit production and arrangements lend their considerable weight to that end.

Tomorrow Is My Turn was recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville, with a crack group of players whom Burnett assembled.  Among them are fiddle player Gabe Witcher and double bassist Paul Kowert of Punch Brothers; percussionist Jack Ashford of Motown’s renowned Funk Brothers; drummer Jay Bellerose; guitarist Colin Linden (Blackie and The Rodeo Kings); legendary backup singer Tata Vega; veteran Nashville session bassist Dennis Crouch; and Drops’ touring band-mates, Hubby Jenkins and Adam Matta.

Impeccably constructed and delivered, Tomorrow Is My Turn should mark a major upward career turning point for Rhiannon Giddens.

Nonesuch Records, Warner Music Australia and Footstompmusic

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Author: Rob Dickens

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