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