Album: there is no Other
Artist: Rhiannon Giddens (with Franceso Turrisi)
Release Date: May 3, 2019
- Brown Baby
- Little Margaret
- Pizzica di San Vito
- Wayfaring Stranger
Rhiannon Giddens is a name I’ve heard for a while but I’d not gotten around to listening to her music. In fact, there was a time when I conflated her with the R&B singer Rihanna (ooops). Well, Rhiannon Giddens is a folk musician, although that seems inadequate to describe the masterful fusion of musical styles on this album. Giddens is joined by Italian jazz instrumentalist Franceso Turrisi on this album. Together they perform a mix of traditional and original tunes that draw on bluegrass, gospel, Italian folk tunes, Arabic, and African sounds. Many of the songs feature just two instruments with Giddens’ spinetingling vocals, while others have complex and fascinating percussion. The sound is unlike anything I’ve heard while still feeling familiar.
Album: What Will We Do
Artist: Lula Wiles
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Thoughts: “Love Gone Wrong,” “If I Don’t Go,” “Good Old American Values,” “Shaking as it Turns,” “Morphine,” and “What Will We Do.”
Lula Wiles is the folk/roots music trio of Isa Burke, Ellie Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin, who met at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Their harmonies and spare arrangements are reminiscent of The Be Good Tanyas and Crooked Still (and the various bands and solo acts that have emerged from those bands). Their music has a melancholy sound that makes me want to weep happy tears. It’s also steeped in the fine folk tradition of melding the personal and political, such as songs like “Good Old American Values.”
The full album is currently available via NPR’s First Listen.
The distinctive voice of Welsh legend Tom Jones works well in duet with Irish vocalist Imelda May on this bluegrass/rockabilly cover of “Honey, Honey” by The Milk Carton Kids. The song comes from Jones’ album The Lost Suitcase, a collection of tunes to accompany his recent autobiography.
What are you listening to in 2016?