A song is a song is a song. And if it's a good one, it doesn't need anything more than a guitar and a singer. Gillian Welch and her longtime collabrorator David Rawlings's belief in such fundamental songwriting truths seems to be firmer than that of anyone else. The duo (and that's really what they are - much rather than a singer-cum-sidekick) rely on their beautiful harmonizing, Rawlings' original guitar work and their co-written songs. And it works. In fact, it works spectacularly. The title track smoothly entices the listener to enter Welch's mellow world. Mellow it is but it seems less desolate than on our last visit. "Red Clay Halo" may be less celebratory in Welch's own version than in Valerie Smith's joyful cover - it's still upbeat. "April 14th" is such an intriguing song, I wish it could go on forever.
And then I'm utterly bowled over
by "I Want To Sing That Rock'n'Roll", a dust bowl ballad about the power
of that demon rock'n'roll performed live at the Ryman auditorium. And it
segues nicely into "Elvis Presley Blues". In that one, Welch likens the
King to chorus girls and Harlem queens, thus managing to pay homage and
reveal a heretofore unknown humorous side to her writing.
To me, Gillian Welch is the most
exciting, daring and interesting female