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http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/2650a900424f46cf3c3f6b933aca989e4aef42c0.jpg Leaving Eden

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Leaving Eden

Nonesuch
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
February 28, 2012

After killing it on "Hit 'Em Up Style" – the cover of Blu Cantrell's 2001 R&B hit that branded its breakout Genuine Negro Jig LP – this mischievous old-time string band might've been tempted to cut a whole bunch of amusing pop covers. But the trio's latest confirms they're more than a novelty machine. Produced by alt-country guru Buddy Miller, Eden grows handsome fruit from a nation's tangled roots: "Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man?" turns a 1940 hillbilly yodel by banjo picker Cousin Emmy into a roaring country blues; Rhiannon Giddens veers between Miranda Lambert and Beyoncé on the original "Country Girl"; and "Mahalla" is inspired by a YouTube video of an African guitarist playing slide with a teaspoon in his mouth. Leaving Eden is a lesson in 21st-century American folk – a tradition that's as miscegenated as ever, and stronger for it.

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    Song Stories

    “San Francisco Mabel Joy”

    Mickey Newbury | 1969

    A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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