Record Review: Gillian Welch

Gillian Welch
The Harrow & The Harvest
Nashville, TN

“Eight years makes her more potent than ever”

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Ten years ago Gillian Welch sang, “Everything is Free,” which basically said that if people were going to download her music for free, then she would just sing for herself.  She had no need to put out any new albums.  After six years of waiting, fans were convinced she meant it.  Now, eight years have passed since her last album, Soul Journey. The switch came back on and now we have a new masterpiece.  If there were an album to compare it to, it would be Time (the Revelator), which played with time and history in a manner similar to Dylan.  The last time we heard from Welch and David Rawlings on Soul Journey the lyrics were more direct, blues-based, obviously autobiographical and of a time.  Harrow returns to multi-layered, multi-period songs.

Several of the new songs seem to occupy two time periods simultaneously.  Does “Scarlet Town” take place in the present or in the distant past?  Both?  At their best, Welch and Rawlings are able to use an older, lost American language to create a deeply personal, modern and new form of expression.  Musically, the songs continue Welch and Rawlings’ dark exploration of Appalachia at Neil Young-doom-tempos.  I missed it. If it takes another eight years for the next one, I’m killing everybody. [Editor’s note: he means it.] (Acony Records)

Produced by David Rawlings // Recorded at Woodland Sound Studios in Nashville

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