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Rhiannon Giddens + Francesco Turrisi Unveil Crankie Roll Folk Art Video For Their Take on Traditional Song “O Death”

May 6, 2021

Rhiannon Giddens and Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi have unveiled a new video for their rendition of the traditional American folk song “O Death.” The video features illustrated vignettes of a story about death painted by Maeve Clancy, an Irish crankie roll artist. Giddens explains, “Crankies are a pre-electricity technology that pair a visual narrative, usually painted on a long piece of paper or cloth, ‘cranked’ by hand to the timing of the song.”  Watch the new video HERE and read the Q&A at Garden & Gun, where Giddens discusses “O Death” and her latest album release, They’re Calling Me Home, which No Depression calls a “near perfect album:”

Giddens further says of “O Death” and the new visual –

Many people are aware of Ralph Stanley’s iconic version of ‘O Death’ from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but the song has been in the folk tradition in many different places for a long time. I was particularly caught by Bessie Jones’ version and that inspired the one we recorded. Francesco and I were delighted to work with Irish artist Maeve Clancy to design this beautiful crankie to go along with itmatching a folk art to a folk song.  Maeve’s cranking is so smooth it almost looks like digital animation!

They’re Calling Me Home (Nonesuch Records) is a musical representation of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death, which has been a tragic reality for so many during the COVID-19 crisis. Giddens and Turrisi, who both live in Ireland when they aren’t on tour, have been there since March 2020 due to the pandemic. The two expats found themselves drawn to the music of their native and adoptive countries of America, Italy, and Ireland and the two found a way to effortlessly blend them together.

Recorded over six days at Hellfire – a small studio outside of Dublin, Ireland – They’re Calling Me Home has garnered rave reviews and acknowledgements from The New York Times, NPR Here & Now, NPR Music’s All Songs Considered, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and more.

Listen/Buy They’re Calling Me Home here:

Praise for They’re Calling Me Home

“Looming mortality becomes a refuge in Calling Me Home– NY Times

“Rhiannon Giddens’ newest album goes back in time to soothe the soul of listeners today” – NPR Here & Now

“A near perfect album … her finest work to date” – No Depression“Masterfully mixes the music of Ireland, Italy, Appalachia and heaven” – Associated Press

“A sublime follow-up to 2019’s There Is No Other. Most striking of all is ‘O Death,’ in which Giddens’ extraordinary voice hits new levels of resolute power” – Uncut, 9 out of 10

They’re Calling Me Home is very much its own project, exploring a specific facet within one’s understanding of personal identity” – American Songwriter

“This new one seamlessly fuses the folk and blues traditions of Rhiannon’s home country, the Italian music of Francesco’s home country, and the Celtic folk of their current home in Ireland … The arrangements are fresh and exciting, and Rhiannon’s voice is as soaring and show-stopping as ever” – Brooklyn Vegan

“Giddens finds a note between despair and hope — a powerful resistance that speaks to the day when she can finally go home” – Holler Country

“One of the most quietly beautiful and evocative records you’re likely to hear this year” – Air Mail