24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2012
The Carolina Chocolate Drops, a contemporary string band trio who, under the watchful eye of mentor Joe Thompson, re-created the look, feel, and sound of a 19th century black North Carolina string, fiddle, and jug band ensemble, crafted their first studio recordings into perfect facsimiles of the group's influences.
The Drops were always at their best on-stage, however, where the gospel stomp of those mountain rhythms and the kinetic energy the band gave off completed the feel of a living, breathing history lesson.
Those old string bands could turn on a dime, and the Chocolate Drops reproduced that art, turning their live sets into a black string band revival show. The studio albums felt like they were a bit encased in glass compared to the live performances.
For this outing, however, the Chocolate Drops found the perfect producer in Buddy Miller, who recorded the band live in a single room, and the result is a wonderfully immediate album that feels like a Saturday night house party-- complete with moonlight, dust flying from the carpet under the feet of dancers, and crickets and night bird calls out the open windows.
The sound breathes, and the Drops shine.
Traditional pieces like "Po' Black Sheep" become stomping revivals, born again in a new century. "Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man?" becomes a clawhammer banjo-driven mountain blues, with Rhiannon Giddens' vocal making it seem like Janis Joplin just wandered into the party, a feat she repeats with the album's marvelous last track, "Pretty Bird" (complete with crickets in the background).
The Carolina Chocolate Drops may be intent on reproducing a sound from over a century ago, but they do an amazing job of translating it into the 21st century without diminishing it.
This set feels like a Saturday night throw down under the summer stars. It almost seems timeless, perhaps because it defies time. S. Leggett
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2012
What a marvellous band! This is what music is all about. So full of energy & fun. Rhiannon Giddens & Dom Flemons are musicians of great integrity.
I like this record a lot, but the Chocolate Drops are best heard live rather than in the studio, so I buy their CD's out of loyalty rather than anything else. You can download many recordings of their live concerts from archive.org.
The current line up is fine (I'm glad the beat box man didn't last long) but I do miss Justin Robinson.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I completely agree with Alistair Moon's excellent review here. This is a terrific album, full of variety from the thumping, rough-edged traditional pieces to the mournful, beautiful and quite modern-sounding title track. The effect is terrific from beginning to end, created by some quite brilliant musicianship: excellent playing of a variety of instruments and wonderful, wonderful singing.
My advice is to read Mr Moon's review for a more detailed idea of the album and then to snap it up. It's an absolute gem.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2012
Did'nt know what to expect from this band, but from what I have heard from this cd you will not be disappointed. With new songs and others from the archives this cd is pure pleasure from the first to the last track."Read em John" and "Mahalla" are my faves today, but really all the tracks are excellent. Would love to see them live, bet that would be an experience. Just buy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2012
I was curious about the band having seen the name in several places online and heard mutterings about them so I bought this CD to find out for myself and was knocked out by it. The sound is so natural and the musicianship superb. They jump about the genres from Hoedown to bluegrass to a kind of cajun sound then to a folky feeling. The vocalisations of Rhiannon Giddens are superb especially on the final track Little Bird which she sings without accompaniment.
I would strongly reccomend you buy this whatever your usual musical preferences it is a genuine treat.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Coming out of Durham in North Carolina the Carolina Chocolate Drops is a band that immediately catches your attention. A string band who play a traditional style of Folk music, but with much more modern and relevant lyrics to today’s world this band have already proved to be a Grammy winner, and have been nominated for many other awards.
Mentored by the late Joe Thompson this is a group that have crafted their sound. Unlike their previous album this is much more modern in terms of songs here, which all mesh together very well. Nowadays African-American music has sort of become entangled in certain preconceptions, and the fact that there were great string bands in the past has become overlooked by most people. This band are certainly helping to put the records right.
With a great blend of slow and fast timed music this is an album that is well worth listening to, and arguably unlike their previous album this also shows that this group can branch out further and explore their music more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2012
This music is a wonderful example of great young musicians being able to respect the roots of traditional music yet give it a uniquely modern twist. This item is a joy to listen to and the guys also write lovely original music.
on 4 August 2013
My first taste of this album was in January 2012 a month before the release at The Folk Dance Society in London, where The CCD were playing some of the tracks were as you would expect dropped into the set and they performed them as they'd always been playing them. It was also my first taste of the new line up with Leyla McCalla coming in on cello and Hubby Jenkins playing more traditional CCD styled instruments of guitar, madolin banjo and bones. When they played the title track "Leaving Eden" the mournful cello, the slow waltz timing of Dom Flemons frailing banjo and the sad beautiful lyrics performed by the amazing voice of Rhiannon Giddens, made me feel emotional. Never before had I got emotional over a song without first having a broken heart. That alone was enough for me to pre-order this album. It was highly unlikely that when I got my hands on this album that I would be dissapointed and I wasn't. The question is would this offering be better than my first CCD purchase the Grammy award winning "Genuine Negro Jig"? The answer was no it isn't better it was equally as good. This is a new selection of traditional music interjected with a few modern offerings performed by a new stronger line-up. From the pop styled "Country Girl" original to the reggae rhythms of the instrumental "Mahalla" a wide variety of music providing entertainment and education in a way only perhaps this talented bunch of musicians could.