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Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator) (2001)

March 12, 2014

[Album 296/1001]220px-GillianWelch_Time(TheRevelator)

I have a new favourite cringe-worthy note of the 1001 albums thus far.

It was originally a Joni Mitchell chorus note found in her song My Old Man.

That was later replaced by the harsh note in the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt.

Currently moving up to the gold medal position: the note David Rawlings hits in his guitar solo at 2:33 of Revelator.

The best song on the album also has the best recording story, courtesy of our friends at Wikipedia:

“It was a mic test – the version on the record. Dave just said, ‘play ‘Revelator’ and it was okay, let’s try it and we used the mike test.” Adds Rawlings, “We played it once and it was great because we hadn’t played it in months. We got that first take feeling.” – Gillian Welch.

This is an excellent ‘less is more’ record.  Just Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, just banjo/guitar/vocals.  Just great.

Now it’s not for all occasions;  Time is extremely subdued, so it will not inspire listeners to leap into action.  There are moments that remind me of The Louvin’ Brothers’s brand of old school country and others that sound much more contemporary.

I had a feeling I’d like this one as I quite enjoyed the Welch/Rawlings contributions to Ryan Adams’s Heartbreaker.  On that record’s opening track, David Rawlings impressed me with his willingness to participate in a Morrissey debate: anyone up for betting that they can correctly identify a Moz-single’s album of origin is alright in my books!

Morrissey trivia aside, I’m a sucker for female/male harmonies and they are bountiful and beautiful here.

From → 2000s

  1. Hoofty! That song’s a beauty. Admittedly I have never heard of Gillian Welch…I suppose I am not up on my Folk. But, this was great. You’re right – not right for every occasion. Mellow, a bit melancholy (I wrote “sad”and deleted it…not sad – moody?). And, I heard that note at 2:33 and “ouch!” There was also a close call at 5:15 (did you hear it?) almost like the car slip slid on some ice and, oh! Corrected itself! Not sure I’ll investigate her music further, but I’ll know the name now!

    • Your description & adjectives are apt! I really like the guitar player – that’s it, he sometimes skids into the right note.
      But hey, Bing Crosby never hit a note straight on. That’s part of the highlight of listening to White Christmas, counting how many notes he swoops into!

  2. One of the greatest Americana couples around these days. Btw – have you heard the version of “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)’ on Dave Rawlings Machine? NIce Post

  3. Nice post Stephen. I know Welch is very highly thought of, and I have Rawlings solo album, but I don’t think I’ll be investing in this album, I like a bit more energy to my music.

    • I tried going out for a run with this as the soundtrack and, as you can imagine, it turned out it was not an optimal choice! But for lounging around the house, it works nicely

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