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Album of the Week – ‘Freedom Highway’ by Rhiannon Giddens


“Know thy history. Let it horrify you; let it inspire you. Let it show  you how the future can look, for nothing in this world has not come around before. These songs are based on slave narratives from the 1800s, African American experiences of the last century, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and headlines from streets of Ferguson and Baltimore today. Voices demanding to be heard, to impart the hard-earned wisdom of a tangled, difficult, complicated history; we just try to open the door and let them through.” – Rhiannon Giddens

Freedom Highway, Grammy Award–winner and 2017 Grammy nominee Rhiannon Giddens’ follow-up to her highly praised debut album Tomorrow Is My Turn, will be released by Nonesuch Records. The record includes nine original songs Giddens wrote or co-wrote while she and her band toured after Tomorrow Is My Turn’s 2015 release, along with a traditional song and two civil rights-era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and Staple Singers’ well-known “Freedom Highway,” from which the album takes its name (track listing below). Giddens and the band visited Australia for the first time for Bluesfest and sideshows around Easter 2016, and they returned, for Bluesfest and sideshows again this year.

Giddens’ writing for Freedom Highway is a departure from Tomorrow Is My Turn, which included one original song, with the rest being her interpretations of songs written or performed by a wide variety of female musicians. Giddens co-produced Freedom Highway with multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell in his Breaux Bridge, Louisiana studio, with the bulk of recording done in wooden rooms built prior to the Civil War. As producers, Giddens and Powell sought to release the stories already in the walls, allowing the space to be a voice in itself. This approach allowed for an emotional fearlessness and presence not always easy to achieve in the studio. Together they assembled the players, which included her superb touring band, local musicians from the bayou, a soulful horn section from New York, and talented family members.

Track Listing:

1. At the Purchaser’s Option – (Rhiannon Giddens/Joey Ryan)

2. The Angels Laid Him Away – (Mississippi John Hurt)

3. Julie – (Rhiannon Giddens)

4. Birmingham Sunday – (Richard Fariña)

5. Better Get It Right the First Time – (Rhiannon Giddens/Dirk Powell/Justin Harrington)

6. We Could Fly – (Rhiannon Giddens/Dirk Powell)

7. Hey Bébé – (Rhiannon Giddens/Dirk Powell)

8. Come Love Come – (Rhiannon Giddens)

9. The Love We Almost Had – (Rhiannon Giddens/Bhi Bhiman)

10. Baby Boy (ft. Lalenja Harrington & Leyla McCalla) – (Rhiannon Giddens/Lalenja Harrington)

11. Following the North Star – (Rhiannon Giddens)

12. Freedom Highway (ft. Bhi Bhiman) – (Roebuck “Pops” Staples)

You can follow Rhiannon Giddens HERE . For an extended listen to the album, tune in on Thursday from 1.30PM – 2PM for ‘Album of the Week’ with Josh Crosbie. Don’t forget to also listen out for your opportunity to win a copy of ‘Freedom Highway’ all week. You must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up HERE. You can also stream the station HERE.


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