Grammy laureate, MacArthur fellow, and Pulitzer-winning virtuoso Rhiannon Giddens strikes gold on her genre-defying third solo album, You’re The One, which features a guest appearance by Jason Isbell.
Venturing into uncharted territory, You’re The One marks Rhiannon Giddens' maiden voyage into the realm of all-original songwriting, leaving a trail of melodic brilliance in her wake while weaving a musical patchwork that transcends genres. As the follow-up to her acclaimed 2017 release Freedom Highway, the 12-track collection is a vibrant testament to Giddens' profound connection to folk traditions and its modern pop offshoots. Guided by the masterful hand of producer Jack Splash (known for his work with Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Alicia Keys, and Valerie June), the album's recording took place at Criteria Recording Studios in Miami. A stellar ensemble converged, featuring Giddens' steadfast musical allies from the past decade alongside accomplished musicians from Splash's musical galaxy, punctuated by an illustrious horn section.
Throughout the album, Giddens' musical comrades, including the Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell, bassist Jason Sypher, and Congolese guitarist Niwel Tsumbu, weave an intricate tapestry of sounds. Upright and electric bass, conga, accordion, guitar, piano, and even a Western string section mingle in harmony, resonating with the inclusive spirit that pervades Giddens' artistic vision. With it, Giddens aspires to dismantle boundaries, inviting listeners to traverse the multifaceted tapestry of American music. Her compositions echo with strains of blues, jazz, Cajun, country, gospel, and rock – a convergence that evokes her very essence. "I like to be where it meets organically," Giddens muses.
The album opens with the spirited "Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad," an R&B-infused anthem enriched by infectious "shoops" and the soulful embrace of horns. An homage to Aretha Franklin, the track is a powerful vocal showcase for Giddens, exemplifying her remarkable vocal range and versatility. "If You Don't Know How Sweet It Is" injects a daring edge into the vivacious spirit of Dolly Parton's early works. Meanwhile, "Another Wasted Life" stands as one of the album's most poignant moments, a powerful tribute to Kalief Browder's tragic story and a testament to Giddens' commitment to social narrative through her craft. Another standout gem is "Yet To Be," featuring a guest appearance by Jason Isbell. The track weaves an evocative tale of love and unity between a Black woman and an Irish man in America, a poignant exploration of human connection amid diversity.
Giddens' accolades form a constellation of artistic brilliance – hailed as one of NPR's 25 Most Influential Women Musicians of the 21st Century, a two-time Grammy winner and eight-time nominee, a Pulitzer Prize for her opera Omar, and her role as the Silkroad Ensemble's creative director. Her artistic alchemy has graced the Kennedy Center Awards for Joan Baez, the stages of late-night television, and garnered the spotlight in a recent Grammy salute to Paul Simon.