Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi: There Is No Other review – Filigree and ferocious in equal measure

Thu, May 9, 2019, 05:00

   
 

Album:
There is no Other

Artist:
Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi

Label:
Nonesuch

Genre:
Traditional

Come the hour, come the artists. Separately, Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi have mined the fertile depths of their respective traditions (American Roots and Mediterranean) for some time, but together, they toil in places both arid and fecund, to now stark, then heartbreaking – and occasionally, blood-curdling effect.

The title is no accident of birth: they poke, prod and needle at the current penchant for “othering”, discovering and celebrating natural songlines, the ties that bind their reading of one of the Child Ballads, Little Margaret, with Black Swan, a heart-stopping aria (with echoes of Strange Fruit) by Gian Carlo Menotti.

And then there’s Giddens’s  own compositions: timeless and utterly of this time. The closing pair of I’m On My Way (written with producer, Joe Henry) and He Will See You Through’ (with Dirk Powell) are akin to spirituals from the deep south, marrying the perplexed realities of our day with a fiery determination to overcome.

Turrisi’s vast array of instruments (his frame drum etching deepest) and his molecular attention to detail, alongside Giddens’s own fiddle and banjo make for the most spacious sound imaginable. Filigree and ferocious in equal measure.