On Leaving Eden, Carolina Chocolate Drops infuse traditional African-American string band music with immediacy and drive. The North Carolina–based Drops (originally a duo, now a quintet) have won international accolades thanks to their raw-edged passion and sly humor, as well as their collective virtuosity. Singer/fiddler Rhiannon Giddens commands the spotlight with a ferocious rendition of the bluesy “Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man?” and gives a sassy spin to Ethel Waters’ ‘20s hit “No Man’s Mama.” Especially striking are her vocals on the title track (a poignant original song featuring new band member Leyla McCalla on cello) and “Pretty Bird” (an Appalachian love lament performed a cappella). As an ensemble, the Drops veer from risqué jugband numbers (“Boodle-De-Bum-Bum”) to raucous dance tunes (“Po’ Black Sheep”) and bittersweet Southern odes (“Country Girl”) with equal aplomb, serving up their music with tasty guitar and banjo licks and rootsy rhythms. Leaving Eden is a major step forward for this innovative and downright inspiring combo.