It’s remarkable that a prolific artist such as Rhiannon Giddens could reach this juncture in her career and still be accomplishing notable firsts. This time, she’s putting out her first album of all original material – called You’re the One – since she began her post-Carolina Chocolate Drops solo career in the 2010s. On a recent airing of Today on NBC, Giddens and her band performed two tracks from the album (which is out today, Friday, August 18): “Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad” and the project’s title track, “You’re the One.”
From a genre perspective, You’re the One is one of Giddens’ most expansive works to date, drawing on her endless knowledge of folk and vernacular musics to craft a sound that’s rootsy, yes, but ultimately demonstrates the down home, everyday, and Black origins of all popular American musics. “Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad,” for instance, was co-written with Giddens’ longtime friend and collaborator, fiddler Dirk Powell, to channel the late, legendary Aretha Franklin. The album includes accordions, horns, globally-inspired percussion (by Giddens’ partner Francesco Turrisi), countrypolitan strings, and so much more. Produced by Jack Splash, You’re the One seems to draw on Giddens’ penchant for the theatrical more prominently than previous outings. She did, after all, just win a Pulitzer Prize for her opera, Omar, so the performative elements of this record seem to draw equally from folk and stage traditions.
Among a discography chocked full of essential works, You’re the One is still a landmark release by Giddens, further establishing – and complicating – her unique and indelible voice and once again highlighting the diverse and representative lineages that gave rise to all American roots music forms, with joy and love centered in every note.
Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz