Rhiannon Giddens Announces New Album, Her First with All Original Songs
Rhiannon Giddens (photo by Ebru Yildiz)
It’s a big week for Rhiannon Giddens, with news of a new album as well as a big new award to add to her shelf.
You’re the One, coming Aug. 18 on Nonesuch Records, is Giddens’ third solo album, and her first with all original songs. The 12 songs pull from her folk music roots as well as more modern pop sounds. Jack Splash, who has previously worked with Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, and Valerie June, was the producer.
Joining Giddens on the You’re the One are her partner, multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, with whom she released 2021’s They’re Calling Me Home; multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell and bassist Jason Sypher, both longtime collaborators; Congolese guitarist Niwel Tsumbu; and even a horn section from Miami, where the album was recorded. Jason Isbell makes a guest appearance on a song called “Yet to Be.”
“I hope that people just hear American music,” Giddens says in a press release announcing the album. “Blues, jazz, Cajun, country, gospel, and rock — it’s all there. I like to be where it meets organically. They’re fun songs, and I wanted them to have as much of a chance as they could to reach people who might dig them but don’t know anything about what I do. If they’re introduced to me through this record, they might go listen to other music I’ve made and make some new discoveries.”
The album’s first single is its title track, inspired by being a parent to two children, a now 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.
“Your life has changed forever, and you don’t know it until you’re in the middle of it and it hits you,” Giddens says, remembering a bonding moment with her son not long after his birth. “I held his little cheek up to my face, and was just reminded, ‘Oh my God, my children — they have every bit of my heart.'”
On Monday, Giddens’ name was among the winners of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize, an honor she shares with film composer Michael Abels for their opera Omar, about enslaved people brought to America from Muslim countries, which debuted last year at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Giddens has previously won two Grammys: Best Folk Album for They’re Calling Me Home (ND review) and Best Traditional Folk Album for the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Genuine Negro Jig. In 2017 she received the prestigious “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, and she was named one of No Depression’s Artists of the Decade in 2019.
Last fall she published her first picture book, Build a House, illustrated by Monica Mikai and based on a song Giddens composed to mark the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. And last week the show My Music with Rhiannon Giddens premiered on PBS, featuring conversations and performances with “some of the artists who are inspiring me the most these days,” she explains in a trailer for the show. The two episodes that have already aired, featuring Giddens’ Carolina Chocolate Drops bandmate Justin Robinson and Allison Russell, are available on PBS.org, and more will be added.
Giddens is currently serving as creative director for Silkroad Ensemble, and today announced an extensive tour in support of You’re the One including the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and the FreshGrass Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts on Sept. 24. (FreshGrass is part of the FreshGrass Foundation, No Depression’s publisher.) Check all the tour dates here.
Here is the track list for You’re the One:
- Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad
- You’re the One
- Yet to Be (feat. Jason Isbell)
- Wrong Kind of Right
- Another Wasted Life
- You Louisiana Man
- If You Don’t Know How Sweet It Is
- Hen in the Foxhouse
- Who Are You Dreaming Of
- You Put the Sugar in My Bowl
- Way Over Yonder
- Good Ol’ Cider