Unlike Rhiannon Giddens’ 2015 solo debut, an album of covers, most of Freedom Highway is original material, though steeped in the revivalist style of the group she co-founded, the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Banjo and fiddle are foregrounded in a production that breathes weathered timber and dusty roads. Some songs are clearly historical – At the Purchaser’s Option and Julie are voices from slavery days – but Better Get It Right the First Time, complete with rap, could be from the urban present and Hey Bébé boasts muted New Orleans trumpet. The title track, a cover of the Staple Singers’ civil rights anthem, and We Could Fly affirm the quest for the promised land on a timely, arresting album.
Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway review – timely and arresting
Neil Spencer is a writer and an astrologer for The Observer