The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday January 26th


Music short: The Giddens Sisters 'I Know I've Been Changed'

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this review said Rhiannon Giddens was taking a break from the Carolina Chocolate Drops to work on this album. She is still touring and performing with the band. The review has been amended to reflect this change.

Rhiannon Giddens, instrumentalist and lead singer of the Grammy award-winning band Carolina Chocolate Drops, is partnering with her sister Lalenja Harrington for the gospel album I Know I’ve Been Changed.

As an album, I Know I’ve Been Changed is an organic blend of contemporary innovation and classic Southern Christian ideologies. It was produced by the Music Maker Relief Foundation of Hillsborough, N.C., an organization dedicated to preserving Southern musical traditions by partnering with artists of all genres.

The record begins with the title track, a seamless song featuring a mesmerizing balance of melody and harmony in the divine voices of the two sisters.

But with “When Billie Sings,” I Know I’ve Been Changed is abruptly interrupted with a mixture of spoken word poetry and a cappella melodies inspired by the ballads of Billie Holliday. Slow dramatic lyrics — such as “When Billie sings I feel like I’m riding a wave/salty folds covering me like velvet and midnight. Moonless and starless” — leave the listener feeling disoriented.

The duo contributes a variety of covers from influential gospel groups of North Carolina. The final track, “Cripple Creek,” is an instrumental cover featuring Giddens’ picking on the banjo. Overall, it’s an upbeat ending to the heavy-hearted record.

While the traditional gospel grace of I Know I’ve Been Changed appeals to those who appreciate a classic Southern style, the album’s distinct genre will possibly deter a large audience. However, the charming a cappella harmonies and smooth string instrumentals carry a strong female presence that can not be ignored, transporting the album into a place of jubilation and delight.

Dive Verdict: ?????

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