Rhiannon Giddens Faces Down Death in ‘They’re Calling Me Home’

Rhiannon Giddens has long been a strong champion of some of the most vital verses in the classic American songbook—the odes that have gone on to construct the very foundation of roots music today. On her latest project set for release on April 9th via Nonesuch Records called They’re Calling Me Home, she once again shoulders this charge, and this time focuses her efforts on many of the songs about passing into the afterlife.

Once again partnering with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi who she’s been quarantining with in Ireland, Rhiannon Giddens looks to take compositions such as “O Death” and “Amazing Grace” and give them new life, and to do the same to the classic Alice Gerrard song this new album is titled for (listen below). In the song, Giddens positively stuns with her generational voice and interpretation.

“Some people just know how to tap into a tradition and an emotion so deep that it sounds like a song that has always been around. Alice Gerrard is one of those rarities. ‘They’re Calling Me Home’ struck me forcefully and deeply the first time I heard it, and every time since. This song just wanted to be sung and so I listened.”

Other old-time classics on the album include “I Shall Not Be Moved,” “Black As Crow (Dearest Dear)” and “Waterbound.” There’s also a new original song written by Gidden’s called “Avalon,” and a traditional Italian lullaby tune titled “Nenna Nenna” that Turrisi sings to his infant daughter.

The album was recorded over five days at the Hellfire studio in Dublin. Along with minstrel banjo and guitar, the album features accordion, viola, cello, guitarist Niwel Tsumbu, and Irish traditional musician Emer Mayock on flute, whistle, and pipes. It was produced by Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi.

They’re Calling Me Home is now available for pre-order.

Track List:

  1. Calling Me Home
  2. Avalon
  3. Si Dolce È’l Tormento
  4. I Shall Not Be Moved
  5. Black as Crow
  6. O Death
  7. Niwel Goes to Town
  8. When I Was In My Prime
  9. Waterbound
  10. Bully For You
  11. Nenna Nenna
  12. Amazing Grace
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