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Soul Journey

58 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 3, 2003
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Soul Journey + The Harrow & The Harvest + Revival
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Gillian goes electric! This joyful 2003 album welcomes distorted guitar and organ on some tracks, then returns to acoustic immediacy on others; includes Look at Miss Ohio; Wrecking Ball; Lowlands; One Little Song; No One Knows My Name , and more.

Blessed with a soulful and expressive voice and an innate grasp of the melodies and themes of traditional country music, Gillian Welch has made three beautiful, often brilliant, albums. Yet, one can make the case that she's still searching for her own true artistic voice. Soul Journey brings her ever closer to that elusive goal. After 2001's austere, solemn, at times inscrutable Time (The Revelator), this follow-up finds Welch showing more warmth, ease, and openness as both singer and songwriter. As the title portends, the concept of travel (physical and emotional) is a prevailing thread throughout these 10 tracks; she sings of rolling stones "on the road to sin," travelers on "black highways," girls "running around with the ragtop down" and "at the station rolling slow." These characters, perhaps autobiographical, are simultaneously searching for and running away from their pasts, while soft drums, fiddles, organs, and Dobros add a welcome bit of lightness. With the trusty David Rawlings again at Welch's side, the songwriting and production till the earth between their old-time heroes and more modern troubadours like Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young (both the bucolic strummer and, on the closing "Wrecking Ball," the ragged electric wanderer). For Welch and for us, Soul Journey is yet another fascinating rest stop on the never-ending road to self-discovery. --Marc Greilsamer

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 3, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Acony Records
  • ASIN: B000094AV5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,414 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Kori Frazier on June 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD
There's something about Gillian Welch's music that is enough to make any listener believe that she is a walking anachronism. Her low, haunting vocals, combined with acoustic, traditionally styled songs create music that sounds as if it came right out of the era when the recordings of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family gave birth to country music over seventy years ago. In short, from her lyrics to instrumentation to appearance, Welch seems decidedly out of place in a culture where the very mention of country music conjures up images of Faith Hill and a skankily clad Shania Twain. Despite the fact that she is one of the most underrated musicians in the music world, Welch, along with her musical partner David Rawlings, is apt at producing music that consistently wow her fan base.
Thus, it is no surprise that Soul Journey, Welch's fourth album, is no exception to this rule. The follow up to 2001's critically acclaimed Time (The Revelator), Welch once again delivers a collection of beautiful original songs sure to impress any listener of great folk music. While it fails to match the diversity and overall quality of Revelator, Soul Journey makes for a stunning album and excellent continuation of the style she has established over the last several years. Tracks such as the bluesy "Look At Miss Ohio" and "I Had A Real Good Mother and Father," with its soaring vocals as the prominent focus of the song, seem to echo the finest moments of Revival, Welch's debut album, while "One Little Song" and "Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor" conjure up thoughts of "Dear Someone" and "Everything Is Free" from her preceding release.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on June 9, 2003
Format: Audio CD
...Gillian Welch has provided, with this, her fourth album, proof that she's not just a flash in the Americana pan. She's a talented, creative artist who has (thankfully) found a way to release her product on her own label, thereby controlling more aspects of the process than many artists are lucky enough to enjoy. Unfettered by the `do this - do that' voices in a corporate office, she and her songwriting/performing partner David Rawlings can see their vision placed into the hands of their fans untouched by the forces of corporate greed. And that's a real good thing. The duo's listeners have been able to see the songwriting talents at work in their recordings expand and mature over the course of their four releases - there are songs here that stand up to the best work on her astonishing debut album, REVIVAL, as well as the high points that can be heard on HELL AMONG THE YEARLINGS and TIME (THE REVELATOR).
The arrangements on these tracks are mostly simple - but don't make the mistake of reading `simple' as `empty' or `unimaginative'. Welch's voice and words are framed perfectly by her guitar and occasional, gentle banjo work - and as listeners have come to expect and appreciate, David Rawlings' accompaniment couldn't be more apt. If you've ever had the pleasure of seeing these two perform live, I'm sure one of the first things you noticed was how much in tandem they work - they're joined so closely in spirit that they accompany and play off each other without even looking, like four hands controlled by the same mind. This intermingling of talents translates nicely into their studio recordings as well - there's not a single note out of place or superfluous here.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I'm a very sensible guy. I love my wife, I love my children, I do my work, I pay my mortgage etc. However for the last few years I have been having a secret affair with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings and their art, an affair of the heart.
I'm simply in love with the sounds they make. Because I am in love the fact that I think Soul Journey is the fourth perfect CD that they have released may not mean much to you. You are free to dismiss such claims as the ranting of a madman, a man driven mad by love.
But if you are curious about what sounds could inspire such passion in an otherwise calm and collected soul.... Soul Journey or any of the others are fine places to start.
If I had to pick, I'd say in general that Soul Journey is their best CD yet. Something tells me the one to follow will be their best ever too.
They just keep getting darker and brighter, closer to the bone and closer to the light.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By sorenrv on July 9, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I have been with Gillian Welch since the Revival CD and her subtle but haunting songs and voice have been a revelation to me. If anything Gillian Welch is subtle, she uses subtlety as a secret, or not so secret, weapon to get under the skin and into the heart and deeper, er, layers of the mind.
Compared to her two previous releases Soul Journey is and even more scaled down affair with even sparser instrumentations and arrangements. Is this good or bad? The way I see it is that there are lots of places to go for "the other thing", beuatifully crafted and oppulent productions, so seeing that Gillian and mate David dare to go in the other direction is very refreshing.
Listening to these songs are all about focusing on the simple truths, the beauty of Gillian's voice, the guitar tone, the snare drum hit that feels so present, so close to you, that you are continously overwhelmed by the intimacy of the listening experience.
Gillian's voice has developed since Time (The Revelator). It has become darker, a bit more sinister, and less playful. If anyone remembers the playful Paper Wings from Revival, with it's great, and very corny lyrics and melody, with a nod to Patsy Cline, such songs are absent from Soul Journey. But Gillian Welch is never sobbingly sad. She sings the songs like stories that have to be told with a remarkable quiet insistency.
I am very impressed with the production, the general sound of the CD. It sounds as if the production team (David and Gillian I presume) have used all the vintage gear they could lay their hands on, but married it with modern technology where that is appropriate (such as releasing on CD and not on vinyl).
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