You're The One

by Rhiannon Giddens

Original Release Date: 2023-08-18

You're The One

Since Rhiannon Giddens first struck out on her own with 2015’s Tomorrow Is My Turn, the former Carolina Chocolate Drops member has proven she can do just about anything—just ask her trophy case, which boasts a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, and a handful of Grammy Awards. Always eager to try something new, on You’re the One Giddens serves up her first collection of original songs. Produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, John Legend), the record is Giddens’ lushest and most joyful to date, incorporating a horn section, Western strings, and a fortuitous combination of Splash’s go-to players and Giddens’ own band. “I like to do things differently each time,” Giddens tells Apple Music. “The last record [They’re Calling Me Home] was about as minimal as you can get. It was me and my partner [Francesco Turrisi] and a couple of guests, and it was made during lockdown. It was time to go the opposite direction. I had these songs tucked away I’ve been writing over the last decade and some change, that hadn’t really fit in any projects but I thought needed some love.”

Opener “Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad” is a soulful kiss-off worthy of the best juke joint, with Giddens drawing inspiration from the performances of the late Aretha Franklin. “Yet to Be” imagines a romance between a Black woman and a white Irish man, with Giddens and featured artist Jason Isbell trading perspectives throughout the narrative. “Another Wasted Life” pays homage to Kalief Browder, a wrongfully incarcerated Black man who died by suicide upon release from Rikers Island, where he spent nearly two years in solitary confinement. And the title track finds Giddens at her most joyful, celebrating the birth of her second child with an especially emotional vocal performance. Below she talks through some of the standout tracks on the album.

“Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad” “That was a song that I wrote the words and I was like, ‘God, this is a real Aretha vibe.’ I’ve been listening to a lot of Aretha Franklin, and especially her earlier stuff. She’s just such an amazing interpreter. She’s not necessarily a songwriter, but she makes every song her own. I sent the words to my friend Dirk [Powell], who’s on the record as well. Dirk is a wonderful songwriter and musician. I knew he’s an Aretha nut, and I said, ‘I think this could be an Aretha song.’ The inspiration is definitely from her: very strong, pro-woman, not standing for any nonsense, that way that she held her space in the music world. The result is just such a fun kiss-off to a useless man.”

“You’re the One” “It’s a song I wrote after the birth of my second child, and it’s a love song to my children. It was the recognition of the thing that they talk about: this energy, this, like, ‘Oh my gosh, this new person is in the world and everything feels possible.’ I hadn’t felt that with the first year of my daughter’s existence because I had really bad postpartum depression. I didn’t really even realize it until it was over a year later, and I was like, ‘Oh gosh, I’m not crazy or a bad mother. I just had this kind of veil.’ I know a lot of people can identify with that.”

“Yet to Be” (feat. Jason Isbell) “This is a song I wrote with Marcus Hummon, who’s a well-known Nashville songwriter, and we just clicked immediately. It was one of these songwriting sessions where you go into a room with a stranger and you come out with a song. He’s written songs that were hits during the ’90s, so we had this connection there. Then the story of a young Black girl leaving the South and meeting this young Irish boy who’s just come over the ocean—it’s just thinking about how we’re fighting, still, for a lot of things that need to happen. But we’ve come a long way. It’s just a moment of looking at the good parts, really, of the American story, which is people coming from different parts of the globe where their ancestors would’ve never met, and they meet on this land and they create a new generation. They create new music. They create new dance. They create, actually, what is the American experience.”

“Another Wasted Life” “‘Another Wasted Life’ was actually written after I heard of the story of Kalief Browder, who was put into solitary confinement after not having been charged for a crime. When he was released, it wasn’t too much longer after that he committed suicide. It obviously fits very squarely into the mission that I’ve had for a very long time. It’s one that I hope will bring more attention to the plight of exonerated men who are still stuck in prison because somebody wanted to close a case or because somebody lied and fingered them, or just because once you’re in, they don’t want you to get out.”

“You Louisiana Man” “It’s one big banjo lick. I did a lot of internal rhymes with that one, and short phrases, and really leaned into the banjo nature of it. Having Dirk there, we were able to get that real Louisiana vibe with the accordion and the fiddle. The drummer and the electric bassist and the organ player—they’re all playing together in church, and also for, I think, a hip-hop act. They just have this vibe. Then I brought in my guys that represent the last 10 years of my collaborations with Dirk and Francesco and Jason, and a new guy, Niwel Tsumbu, a Congolese guitarist who lives in Ireland. We just played it, and everybody was like, ‘Oh, this is awesome. This is going to be a thing.’”

“Hen in the Foxhouse” “I like to play with words. I was just kind of contemplating being often the only woman in the room in the music industry. I was playing in bands with all men and a crew of all men, and all this kind of stuff. Obviously, things are changing and they have been changing, and I do feel like representation is shifting. But even—especially—15 years ago, it was a sausage fest. It’s just thinking about that and all the women who’ve had to be in that place, the strength that you have to pull into. How do you stake out your place? It’s subverting, like, ‘Yeah, I’m just a hen in the foxhouse. I’m just here.’ But actually, that’s where the real strength is, because you’re surrounded by foxes and you have to survive that. It’s more about fighting off all the foxes.”


  1. Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad (3:44)
  2. You’re The One (3:25)
  3. Yet To Be (3:40)
  4. Wrong Kind Of Right (4:40)
  5. Another Wasted Life (4:48)
  6. You Louisiana Man (4:06)
  7. If You Don’t Know How Sweet It Is (3:01)
  8. Hen In The Foxhouse (3:47)
  9. Who Are You Dreaming Of (3:26)
  10. You Put The Sugar In My Bowl (2:59)
  11. Way Over Yonder (3:12)
  12. Good Ol’ Cider (0:45)

Apple Music

Release Images

Release Information

Key Value
Format Vinyl LP Album Limited Edition (Translucent Emerald)
Label Nonesuch
Catalog Number 075597904093
Discogs URL Rhiannon Giddens - You’re The One