Rhiannon Giddens - Freedom Highway album review: Personal voice with a political edge

Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 14:00

   
 

Album:
Freedom Highway

Artist:
Rhiannon Giddens

Label:
Nonesuch

Genre:
Blues

“You can take my body/ You can take my bones/ You can take my blood/ But not my soul.” The shadow of slavery and racism falls on this fine second solo album by multi-instrumentalist Giddens, a former Carolina Chocolate Drops singer.

Those lyrics are taken from At the Purchaser’s Option, a song of stark defiance written by Joey Ryan and Giddens that bookends the 12-track album along with Pops Staples’s civil rights anthem Freedom Highway. The songs in between strike a sweet balance between the personal and the political. Giddens has a sonorous voice, soft when needed but always intense and intelligent.

If her debut attempted to stretch her appeal with mixed success, she is more comfortable on these mostly self-penned songs, including Julie and Baby Boy, which return her to her folk-blues and gospel roots. A record for and of our times. rhiannongiddens.com