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Hell Among the Yearlings Original recording reissued

4.3 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, June 12, 2001
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Product Description

Stripped down and shot through with sadness, Gillian's 1998 album further asserted her as one of the most compelling new artists in Americana. The 11 Welch/Rawlings songs include Caleb Meyer; My Morphine; Honey Now; Whiskey Girl; One Morning , and more!


On her remarkable debut, Revival, Gillian Welch sang of men and women who were intimately tied to others, even as they mourned dead children or lost homes. Hell Among the Yearlings finds Welch in even darker territory. In this world, loss can't be assuaged by human connection because there is none: morphine junkies, dying hobos, and alienated workers stand utterly alone in a sparse landscape where hope comes, if at all, in merely surviving. For example, the woman who kills her rapist or the singer who unconvincingly declares her troubles have flown because "Winter's Come and Gone." Appropriately, Welch's stunning voice goes it alone, surrounded by little more than her own banjo and the spare old- time and country-blues guitar of partner David Rawlings. --David Cantwell
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 12, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Acony Records
  • ASIN: B00005KHE4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,111 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I saw Gillian Welch & David Rawlings a month ago at the Fillmore in San Francisco. At the time, I'd purchased the "O'Brother" soundtrack, and "Revelator" cause I liked her voice so darn much from that Cohen Bro's film sndtrk. So I go over to the merch booth, look for a tee, dissapointingly don't see any, but there, lying on the table in front of me is the "holy trilogy", if you will.
I only had enough to buy one cd. Out of complete random choosing, I picked up "Hell Among the Yearlings".
And here I am, having this cd for the little while that was, and it is absolutely one of my favorite albums of all time. Whereas, I can honestly say, "Revival" and "Revelator" both have a few much stronger individual songs, this album can be heard front to back without missing a beat. It is a complete sonic experience within itself.
Unlike her other two albums, Welch opens this masterpiece with the heavy hitting "Caleb Meyer", a tale of rape and revenge that immediately lays the foundation for the rest of the raw, dark Appalachian-inspired world Welch creates with every new track. Understated and appropriate storytelling flow evenly, emotionally and musically, through tracks like "The Devil Had a Hold of Me" - evoking the spirit of Robert Johnson, "Rock of Ages", and "Honey Now" - the entirely too short "electric" showcase of the album. And possibly the only song where the focus is not as strongly aimed towards Welch's lyrics as much as it is the music.
I keep finding myself unable to concentrate on other things whilst listening, which, to me, means this is NOT backround music, nor a happy cd to tap your feet to. Almost grabs you by the gullet, and doesn't take the grip off 'till its good and ready to let you go.
So what else is there...
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Format: Audio CD
As every review you're likely to read will tell you, the subject matter of these songs is as dark as the sepia tones on the album's cover photo. But there is a danger of making too much of that and of not really getting it in right perspective.
We can compare Welch and her partner David Rawlings with The Handsome Family, whose _Through the Trees_ also deals with dark material. The Handsome Family uses melodies and instrumentation that sound traditional, but combines these with surreal prose poetry whose images are far from the ones the melodies lead you to expect. The result is music that subverts the form it uses and leaves the listener profoundly disoriented. This is neither better nor worse than what Welch does, but the emotional effect is very different. Listening to The Handsome Family can be viscerally disturbing; I can only do it in small doses. Welch's subject matter is depressing, but that doesn't describe the result. The musical form and the poetry are matc! hed. A song like "One Morning" doesn't just sound like an Appalachian ballad; it could very well be one. That means that even though the images are chilling, we are permitted to keep some distance.
Even though Welch's more traditional approach won't give you vertigo, it would be a mistake to think that there's nothing original here, or that the images won't stick with you. "Morphine" is a case in point. The singer addresses the drug as a lover turned cruel and the music conjures up a sense of watching longings fade in a haze. After a few listenings, you feel as though the ghost of this lost junkie has brushed you by. That sort of musical onomatopoeia is part of what makes a song like "Whiskey Girl" work.
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Format: Audio CD
Being somewhat snobby when it comes to music, it is a rare treat to find a real artist out there that can really speak to me. Gillian Welch is one of few that have struck me so deeply.
As great as "Revival" is, I think this album is even better. The thing I like the most about it is its consistent theme of melancholy and woe; yet it is completely unpretentious and genuinely moving. The first album "Revival" (aptly named) embraces different moods (which is a great thing in itself), but this album absolutely grabs me and doesn't let go.
For me, the absolute standouts are (although EVERY track is very strong--no throwaways here!) are "My Morphine", "Miner's Refrain", "I'm Not Afraid To Die", "Caleb Meyer", "Rock Of Ages", and "Whiskey Girl" (I know, that's most of them). The purity of her vocals, and the absolute perfection of the precise harmony vocals, coupled with the crisp playing (pretty much just acoustic guitar and banjo, except for "Honey Now") and clear, bare bones production (proving that less is more when it comes to production), make for one of the best albums I've heard in years (believe me, that's really saying something!).
Thank you, Gillian, for this gift. We need artists like you. BADLY!! You give me hope!
Get this and/or "Revival". She is amazing. "The real thing".
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By A Customer on August 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Gillian Welch is, among other things, a living embodiment of a tradition that stretches far back in time and space. She sings in a style that grew out of the mountain highlands of Appalachia, which came in turn from age-old ballads brought over on ships by paupers from Scotland and Ireland. She plays the banjo, an instrument first crafted by black American slaves from the memory of their stolen lives of freedom in western Africa. So, the fact that she hails from middle-class Los Angeles and not the hills of Kentucky means very little, and she is no less "authentic" than Doc Watson, the Carter family, or the countless, nameless mountain balladeers who preceded them and from whom they borrowed.
The tradition lives on through Ms. Welch and David Rawlings in this breathtaking album, interspersed with equally inspired tunes from other genres. It would seem impossible to top the effect of hearing "Orphan Girl" as the first song on her previous album, but "Caleb Meyer" is up to the job, adding to the usual "death ballad" the feminist twist of a woman who kills the man who is trying to rape her.
In short, this is the real thing. Judging by the breadth and depth of their talent, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings can be expected to make great music for many years to come.
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