Although Rhiannon Giddens has been a fixture on the Americana circuit as the frontwoman for the terrific Carolina Chocolate Drops, it’s on her solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, that Giddens truly announces herself as an artist. On a shrewdly chosen collection of songs that draw from a diverse sample of American roots music, Giddens and producer T Bone Burnett showcase a fearless approach to genre that never once allows easy signifiers to interfere with her forceful and intuitive interpretations.
Yeah, you’ve probably heard this track by now. But let’s just have a post where we talk about it anyway, y’know?
Because this kind of release begs some blog attention, simply for the fact of what it is: a meeting of highly buzzy but divergent artists, and the first soundtrack cut from a hotly anticipated movie (The Hunger Games, adapted from Book 1 of Suzanne Collins’s mega-popular young-adult series). On paper alone, it’s a reminder of why the award shows optimistically call the duet category “Vocal Event.”
And off paper? Solid soundtrack fare – hard to fault, doesn’t call much attention to itself. Swift bends to the earthier, eerier style of her collaborators, producing a lullaby whose minor cadences give lie to its lyrics’ assurance of peace and security. That tension plays especially well if you’re familiar with the book/movie’s storyline, but it works outside that context, too. Meanwhile, Swift’s ghostly sigh can’t quite match The Civil Wars’ for impact (ghostly sighing is like their #1 thing, after all), but her youthful timbre does nicely evoke the story’s protagonists, who are themselves young people ensnared in dark circumstances.
All in all, it makes for a pleasant preview of the T-Bone Burnett-helmed soundtrack, which – with expected tracks from Pistol Annies, Punch Brothers, The Decemberists, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Secret Sisters, and Neko Case, plus another from Swift – could well end up being one of the year’s cooler albums. May the odds be ever in our favor.
Written by Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, and T-Bone Burnett