BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Tomorrow Is My Turn, Rhiannon Giddens’ first solo album bears a particularly prophetic title. Giddens — the singer, fiddler, banjo player and founding member of the frenzied folk outfit Carolina Chocolate Drops — does indeed make good on that optimistic pronouncement with an effort that all but ensures an ascent towards stardom. Following her participation in the collective combo The New Basement Tapes, it finds her covering signature songs by Dolly Parton, the Gershwin brothers, Hank Cochran, Odetta and Nina Simone, while also paying respects to archival classics fine-tuned with original arrangements.
Giddens emulates her forebears with reverence and assurance, whether through the sultry coo of “Last Kind Words,” the rugged gospel-like exhortation of “Waterboy,” the soaring Celtic lament “O Love Is Teasin’,” or the torrid torch song styling etched in the title tune. Producer T Bone Burnett steers the proceedings accordingly, imbuing a sepia-tinted feel that melds well with Giddens’ stately, assertive delivery.
Given her commanding performance, there will likely be many promising tomorrows to come.
DOWNLOAD: “Last Kind Words,” “O Love Is Teasin’,” “Tomorrow Is My Turn”