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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Gillian Welch

The Harrow & The Harvest

Review by Larry Toering

Coming into this unfamiliar with Gillian Welch, I am now happy to be enlightened, as this is a perfectly sung trip through the south. It seems Welsh is usually categorized as a rock artist, but if she is, this album is a departure. It's more like folk with a strong country blues feel. Whatever it is, it really is a relaxing disc full of well put together music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Scarlet Town

This is a great way to lead into things, as it's probably one of the best compositions here and is delivered perfectly. It is a lovely track with a sensual vocal from Welch, but then it's all sensual.

Dark Turn of Mind

A tad slower on this number, Welch expresses things very softly and it has an overall darkness, hence the title.

The Way It Will Be

Somewhere between the previous two in tempo, once again Welch sings the melody so well, with a sound all her own. This gets right down to the heart of things as if to have done so much too late in relationships.

The Way It Goes

Picking things up a bit, this one comes alive instantly with a fine guitar line and a well written lyric. It's amazing how Welch locks in with the arrangement. Although it's rather airy, she is just at one with everything. This is one of the better tracks so far.

Tennessee

This gets a little more commanding, bringing Welch further up in the vocal department. It’s more good stuff with a real vibe, hence the obvious title. This one is sung beautifully once again, with more character shining through than on some of the other tracks. It's very sultry and smooth, yet the lyrics are blunt.

Down Along The Dixie Line

This goes even softer than a few of the others so far, but it picks up a little toward the middle and there is that voice again. The lyrics are brilliant and probably the biggest strength of this piece. Once again this, like all the rest, is backed with lovely acoustic guitar.

Six White Horses

Things go a bit country here with a yodel factor and some hand claps, along with a harmonica and banjo. This really is one of the best tracks, and the southern vibe throughout really peaks here.

Hard Times

More banjo is featured here, but less of it than on the previous number. Welsh’s lovely voice dominates once again and it's infectious indeed. “Ain't gonna rule my mind no more.” This is good stuff!

Silver Dagger

This one has very little music to back her voice.  She really doesn't seem to need it here. Another fine melody is delivered and there isn't a whole lot more to say, as she does the singing so well. One interesting factor here is the striking harmonica. I can't help but also mention that the melody itself is very reminiscent of  “You Are My Sunshine.”

The Way The Whole Thing Ends

Things close with a slight dip in tempo again, but it also has a groove that isn't as evident on the other tracks. All in all, it is a consistent slice of Americana.

 
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