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.
• Photos: Random Notes