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Time (The Revelator)

July 31, 2001 | Format: MP3

$8.99
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6:22
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3:47
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3:14
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4:48
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14:39
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Format: Audio CD
This CD is a treat, a big step forward for Gillian Welch and her partner, David Rawlings, and easily their best work to date.
For those unfamiliar with Welch, she appeared five years ago with "Revival," a compelling recording that drew its inspiration from such early country acts as the Carter Family. Although a terrific singer and songwriter, Welch's close identification with a 70-year-old musical style threatened to mark her as a one-trick pony, an oldies act with little new to offer. Although this was a possibility, it was also quite unfair, as "Revival" was truly a strong and original work, despite the narrow stylistic borders. Welch's sophomore work, "Hell Among the Yearlings" (1998) demonstrated both greater ambitions and growth as a songwriter. Welch also made significant contributions to the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack album, one of the surprise hits of the first half of 2001.
"Time (The Revelator)" is a major leap forward. Welch and songwriting partner Rawlings (who backs her throughout on guitar and vocals) have produced their strongest batch of songs to date, some of which are far removed from the Carter Family-influenced style. "Revelator," the haunting opener, is a clear sign of their growth as writers and performers. Other highlights are "Elvis Presley Blues" and the 14-minute epic "I Dream A Highway," which is an astounding accomplishment. The only negative comment I have is that "I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll" is also included, in the same live version, on the recently released "Down From The Mountain" collection, an "O Brother, Where Art Thou" spinoff. Its a great song, though. Welch's beautiful vocals shine throughout, set within the understated but effective instrumental arrangements. This is intelligent and well-executed music that will appeal to fans of both country and folk.
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Format: Audio CD
One reviewer said that Gillian Welch's new CD _Time (The Revelator)_ won't reward the casual listener. I suspect that's true; Gillian Welch's music doesn't have a lot of curb appeal. But get past that. _Time (The Revelator)_ is achingly beautiful, stunningly good.
Welch's two previous albums (_Revival_ and _Hell Among the Yearlings_) were mostly acoustic; this one goes all the way. There's no overdubbing and -- it seems -- no retakes to clean up the small mistakes that let you know you're listening to real people. All we hear is Welch on guitar and banjo and her partner David Rawlings, playing his gorgeous-toned no-name archtop and adding his high tenor harmonies to Welch's unadorned mezzo.
It's hard to know what to compare this album to. Like Lucinda Williams, Welch's lyrics are poetry made from plain speech. That said, the musical sensibility is very different. There are strong influences from mountain music and early country, though no one will ever mistake Gillian Welch for Hazel Dickens or Iris Dement, let alone Dolly Parton. And whatever her influences or whoever her peers, Welch knows how to make melodies that don't go away.
The narrator for most of the songs on _Revival_ and _Hell Among the Yearlings_ is rural and probably long gone. That's true for some of the material on _Time_ but a good deal of it moves into new territory. There's "My First Lover" -- a woman's unsentimental memory of a long-haired clod with a big red car and Steve Miller on the eight-track. It's clawhammer banjo and Welch's voice with a chickenwire melody, all angles and lines. "Elvis Presley Blues" is a meditation on The King.
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Format: Audio CD
Gillian Welch and her partner, David Rawlings, have once again shown why Acoustic Guitar magazine put the duo on their list of 15 most important acoustic artists of the last decade. This album, like their previous two, is a starkly beautiful set of perfectly written and perfectly executed songs with more feeling than anything else you will find around today. Like Hell Among the Yearlings, this album is stripped down to the basics-- an amazing voice and wonderfully understated guitar work. This pair has stepped up to fulfill a very important role in American music that puts them in a category well above the crowd of folk/country female singer-songwriters with whom Welch is usually grouped. Like Norman Blake before them, Welch and Rawlings have shown that the tradition of Appalachian ballads and old-time music can be kept alive, and while holding close to tradition, they do not sacrifice relevance to modern music. In short, they are performing a miracle-- they are performing a traditional style of music and making it sound as fresh today as in the days of Dock Boggs (although Gillian Welch's voice is infinitely better than his). Further listening: Norman Blake-- pretty much any album will work. Fantastic, but not overly flashy guitar, a pleasant voice, and the tradition of American folk music are the staples of all of Norman Blake's recordings. Roscoe Holcomb-- "The High Lonesome Sound." The real deal in Appalachian ballads, and a great banjo player as well. Deep stuff. Doc Watson-- "Doc Watson." The first album from an old-time/bluegrass legend, with beautiful traditional songs, and some of the finest guitar and banjo playing ever put to wax. John Hartford-- "Aereo-Plain.Read more ›
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