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Since leaving Carolina Chocolate Drops for a solo career in 2015, Rhiannon Giddens has boldly stretched with each successive album, not only redefining Black American traditions, but adding flourishes of the avant garde to the result. Her first collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi in 2019 continued in this vein.

On the pair’s second outing, They’re Calling Me Home (Nonesuch), the two opt for a kinder, gentler path back to tradition, serving up works like “I Shall Not Be Moved” and “Amazing Grace.” On that latter traditional hymn, Emer Mayock adds uilleann pipes to Turrisi’s frame drum to yield an unearthly song.

An original track by the duo, “Avalon,” as well as an Italian traditional number, “Nenna Nenna,” pull the music so far from the rural traditionalism Giddens favored with her Our Native Daughters project, it’s hard to say what planet she and Turrisi might be from. But it’s certain that it’s a very friendly place, and the duo are calling us to a home anyone might recognize.

Also New & Noteworthy

Alan Vega, Mutator (Sacred Bones) – Those of us present at the creation might admit that the NYC duo Suicide, consisting of Alan Vega and Martin Rev, was always more about style than complex musical composition. Even Vega’s solo work of the 1990s, featuring his wife Liz Lamere, fused elements of Bauhaus and Kraftwerk without quantum leaps beyond either influence. Since Vega’s 2016 death, Sacred Bones has pledged to release many works from the “Vega Vault,” but this first entrant is a 30-minute mélange of electronica that meanders more than it hits home. There are interesting moments, but it will leave Vega fans wanting more.

Chad VanGaalen, World’s Most Stressed-Out Gardener (Sub Pop) – Calgary-based VanGaalen has always been a lo-fi DIY oddball. Now with a bigger budget and a legitimate band, he can play with harmonies hovering between Beach Boys and Polyphonic Spree. But with VanGaalen, one is never sure what will come next, including instrumentals that could fit in a new-age space opera. This ensures VanGaalen is always fresh, but makes it hard to find a center of gravity.