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Reviewed: Rhiannon Giddens


by Cat Johnson

The frontwoman for celebrated string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens is a red-hot, rising star of the roots music scene. Her debut solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, furthers her already-stellar reputation with appreciators of the folk tradition and potentially introduces her to a new audience of fans of blues, jazz vocals, and contemporary soul.

The album, which was produced by T Bone Burnett, kicks off with the roots-righteous tune, “Last Kind Words.” It’s a stripped down, porchjam type of tune, but by the second track, a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind,” you know that this album is more than just a rootsy sidestep of the Carolina Chocolate Drops for Giddens.

Tomorrow Is My Turn expands into a multi-genre affair that pays tribute to great songs and outstanding artists including Sister Rosette Tharpe, Hank Cochran, Jacques Wolfe, and the legendary Elizabeth Cotton.

Giddens gets into the mix with her own arrangements of “Black is the Color,” “O Love Is Teasin’,” and an original tune, titled “Angel City” tucked at the end of the album.

On Tomorrow Is My Turn, Giddens gives nod to the past and pulls in elements of contemporary styles to create a nuanced album that sees the artist flexing her chops in a number of genres. In fact, if there’s a weak point to the album (and I’m not sure there is), it’s that it may feel disjointed, covering ground from rough and raw roots, tunes to polished and precise jazz vocal numbers, swinging gospel tunes, and everything in between.

Standout tracks: “Up Above My Head,” a rollicking, thigh-slapping version of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s beloved tune, and “Black Is the Color,” a jazzy, rhythmic, surprisingly upbeat affair.

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