Rhiannon Giddens

Freedom Highway


Loading article content

RECORDED prior to the ascendancy of Donald Trump to his position of power, the second solo album from former Carolina Chocolate Drop, Rhiannon Giddens – following up 2015's superb and much-garlanded Tomorrow Is My Turn – could nonetheless be expressly addressed to him, and to the American people wondering what is going on. In a note to accompany its release, she writes: "We cannot let hate divide us; we cannot let ignorance diminish us; we cannot let those whose greed fills their every waking hour take out country from us."

Those sentiments are audible in every note she sings and plays as well, and more of those are of her own writing this time round, deeply infected by gospel as well as her thorough knowledge of American roots music. Often working with members of her own superb touring band (with whom she visits Edinburgh's Queen's Hall on April 2), songs like Better Get It Right First Time and We Could Fly include soulful choruses, a crack NYC horn section, and rap ingredients and many of them sound like instant classics. Alongside those, her taste in covers is superb, Pop Staples supplying the title track and Richard Farina the powerful Birmingham Sunday.

Keith Bruce