The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a trio that brings back the tradition of old-timey string band music and takes it into the 21st century. The group has three members: Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, and Justin Robinson, who sing, and play banjo, fiddle and percussion and met in North Carolina in the early 2000's. The group uses old time folk tunes and reels as jumping off points to their own musical conception. "Hit 'em Up Style" shows this well, by taking what could be a modern sounding soul and R&B tune about revenge for infidelity and putting Rhiannon's strong and sassy vocals in front of a swirling raw toned fiddle. The effect works well, as does the more traditional sounding work like "You're Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine," with some deft kazoo work emphasizing the double entendre nature of the lyrics and "Cornbread and Butterbeans." "Snoeden's Jig" is a nice centerpiece for the instrumental work of the band, while "Reynadine" is a beautifully haunting a capella performance. This album is a little on the short side, clocking in at about an LP's length, but it feels right. There's nothing contrived about the music here, whether it is a remake of a traditional song or an original composition, the group plays with strength and conviction throughout. Genuine Negro Jig - amazon.com
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Motif - My Head Is Listening (Clean Feed, 2016) ***½
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