Friday, August 3, 2007

Gillian Welch

New York born, California raised, formally educated in both California and Massachusetts, and somehow one of the most authentic southern musicians alive. Gillian Welch rivals any living singer-songwriter in both the pureness of her voice and the depth of her songwriting. She, along with her musical partner David Rawlings, has not only amassed a rich and diverse solo catalog, but they have also collaborated with a wide array of artists of all backgrounds; fitting since it would be tough to peg down her music as it fluctuates seamlessly and beautifully between Bluegrass, Country, Americana and Folk.

It has been eleven years since the release of her debut album, Revival. With the skillful help of famed producer, T-Bone Burnett, an artist and an album was born that hearkened back to the ghosts of bluegrass and folk without simply imitating, and paid homage to the roots while broadening the spectrum. She followed two years later with, Hell Among the Yearlings, an equally powerful and bleak collection of rustic, paired down, songs that were as powerful in the stories they told as in the music that scored them.

Her best was yet to come. Time (the Revelator) was released in 2001. While the album as a whole is not as traditional as her previous releases, the songs remained haunting and somber. Welch says about the album, “In our heads we went electric without changing instruments.” This statement is unmistakable in “I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll,” “April the 14th Pt1” and “Elvis Presley Blues.” Other standouts include the opener “Revelator,” a title inspired by Tom Waits and the epic “I Dream a Highway,” a lazily winding 15 minute closer that does not languish despite its length and displays some of Welch and Rawlings' best lyricism.

Soul Journey is the last album we have seen from Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Less traditional than any of her other releases, and not as widely accepted or critically praised, this album still has its moments, like the heartfelt “Look as Miss Ohio” and the reflective “Wrecking Ball.”

I haven’t even mentioned the numerous collaborations and guest spots over this time period. There are rumblings of a new album this year, but there has been nothing official or even discussed openly. Until then, enjoy these live gems and if you like what you hear, buy the records, or buy the songs on Gillian Welch or eMusic
. One last note, Gillian and David will be touring through mid-August including a stop Thursday August 9th at the Cannery Ballroom back home in Nashville. I will be there. Hopefully so will some of you.

Black Star (Live - Single)
Revelator (Live - Music from the Revelator Collection)
I Want to Sing that Rock And Roll (Live - Time-The Revelator)
Pancho and Lefty (Live - Unreleased)
Wrecking Ball (Live - World Cafe Old Crow Medicine Show - EP)
April the 14th, Part 1 (Live - Music from the Revelator Collection)