A Grammy winner with her band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens’ debut solo album has been a while coming. Inspired by her experience at the Inside Llewyn Davis’ inspired Another Day, Another Time concert and subsequent work on T-Bone Burnett’s Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes album, the singer has finally taken the plunge. With Burnett once more at the production helm, fans of her previous band work will find Tomorrow Is My Turn a familiar experience, albeit one that expands the vision a little. The sense of American folk history is very much evident, this time with added country, jazz and blues.
With source material from the likes of Dolly Parton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Patsy Cline and female blues pioneers Geeshie Wiley and Elizabeth Cotten, Giddens is placing herself in some heavyweight company but proves herself a fine addition to the lineage. To tackle a song made famous by Nina Simone is a bold move, yet her version of the title track even manages to take it to new heights. Her vocals here – as throughout the record – are astonishing, channelling years of Afro-American cultural heritage.
On occasion her boundaries shift even further. The famous Scottish folk tune (via the Appalachian Mountains) ‘Black Is The Color’ is given a sprightly, beats driven reading while ‘O Love Is Teasin’ provides moments of high musical drama. As with everything on the album bar the self-penned ‘Angel City’, the fact that the song has existed in more than one previous life only adds to the magic. That she knows as much about her history as she does her future makes Tomorrow Is My Turn a very special piece of work and Giidens herself a timeless artist.