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Gillian Welch
 Revival, Almo Sounds AMSD-80006, 1996 (41:37)


Every once in awhile you stumble upon an artist who just strikes a chord with you. Gillian Welch is one such person for me. Welch left L.A. and transplanted herself in Nashville from whence she cometh for Revival, her debut effort. Some critics have suggested that her music is inauthentic by virtue of the fact that her songwriting is not always born from direct experience. I must admit I sense a certain amount of detachment in some of these songs. For instance, I have a hard time imagining Ms. Welch struggling to make a living by running moonshine as is implied in "Tear My Stillhouse Down." But I don't think that's the point, and maybe it's part of what I like about this music. It is simple narration and storytelling, usually in the first person. "By The Mark" is a country gospel song of redemption which sounds like it could have been handed down for several generations. "Acony Bell" pays tribute to a "simple flower so small and plain/With a pearly hue and a little known name."

There's not a lot of analysis going on here, no one is whining or looking to change the world. It's like a mini vacation. It is, at the same time, an imitation and an impression of a bygone era. A reminder of a time when the world seemed just a little less complicated. Welch's voice is warm with occasional warbles and the harmonies with collaborator David Rawlings are straightforward and clean. These original songs have simple melodies, the kind you find yourself humming long after you've finished listening. So, go forth and enjoy....and try not to analyze, if just for forty minutes or so. -  Heather Preston

 Glenn says... Yep. File this one next to the Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas album. Welch and Rawling's songs have the same graceful old-fashioned charm and memorability of the classic old tunes on that album. And the same underlying sense of longing and loss. "Paper Wings" is the most beautifully sad songs I've heard in years - "Oh how could I expect to fly with only paper wings." Demo-quality recording too, if that matters.

production notes & song titles

Gillian Welch, vocals and guitars; David Rawlings, guitar, bass, optigan, vocals; various others.

Produced by T-Bone Burnett; recorded by Rik Pekkonen and others.

Orphan Girl | Annabelle | Pass You By | Barroom Girls | One More Dollar | By The Mark | Paper Wings | Tear My Stillhouse Down | Acony Bell | Only One and Only

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.