Carolina Chocolate Drops are a gloriously energetic and adventurous live band, but this set mysteriously fails to demonstrate their range. Which is curious, not just because their last album Genuine Negro Jig did just that, and won them a Grammy, but because this follow-up is produced by that highly inventive musician Buddy Miller. The Drops started out as a trio, providing a rousing reminder that black musicians played an important role in the development of American string band music, then expanded to a four-piece, adding new influences to the revivalism. This set is a return to basics. There's solid, no-nonsense fiddle work on songs such as Riro's House, equally fine banjo-playing on the instrumental Mahalla, and gutsy vocals from the engaging Rhiannon Giddens on the stomping divorce celebration No Man's Mama. But there are none of the surprises of their stage shows, and the relentless jollity is only interrupted by one exquisite tragic ballad, Leaving Eden.
Robin Denselow is a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in music and politics. He is the author of When The Music's Over, a history of political pop