Freedom Highway Rhiannon Giddens Nonesuch/Warner The solo career of Rhiannon Giddens, late of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, takes another step forward with Freedom Highway. Whereas 2015’s well-received Tomorrow is My Turn included only one original, all but three tracks on the singer’s second release are self or co-composed. Suggesting that the highlights of a thematic set predicated on African-American history are the cover songs casts no aspersions on the quality of Giddens’ writing, since the numbers in question are outstanding renditions of classics forged during the fervour of the civil rights campaign. An expansive take of the title track captures the heart, passion and clamour of a Staple Singers’ anthem sparked by the eventful mid-1960s freedom march from Selma to Montgomery. Giddens’ rendition of Richard Farina’s Birmingham Sunday, in which the late-great songwriter noted, “the choirs kept singing of freedom”, is equally soulful and moving. The singer’s bluesy original At the Purchaser’s Option with its stirringly defiant chorus (“You can take my body, you can take my bones / You can take my blood, but not my soul”) compares favourably with the guitar-fingerpicked cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s The Angels Laid Him Away. Another of Giddens’ excellent songs, Julie, works well with banjo and fiddle. Tasty brass stabs, electric guitar breaks and fills and a subdued rap add modern resonance to Better Get It Right the First Time — a reminder that the streets of black America still burn. Baby Boy finishes with an impressive vocal round and three-part female harmony.