Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – The Harrow and the Harvest

I’ve not purchased too many CD’s recently, budget constraints and all that, but I have managed to listen to quite a few on the various legal streaming sites and the wonderful NPR music. One that came through via NPR on their first listen page was the eagerly anticipated new CD from Gillian Welch and David Rawlings The Harrow and The Harvest. I will confess I’m not too familiar with Gillian’s back catalogue so can’t compare this to her earlier work. So for me this is listening to an artists debut album, a debut for me at least.

By the first few chords on the opening track Scarlet town, I’d opened a new tab on my web browser and was searching Amazon for a copy and by the third track The way it will be, with its Crosby Stills and Nashesque harmonies, I’d purchased a copy (did I tell the CD was only released today too!) What does strike you about this album is the exquisite and precise guitar and banjo playing of David Rawlings as well as his production. Not a scratch or squeak of a string to be heard and their beautiful harmonies giving a visions of them both sitting out on a porch as the sun goes down, I’d pay good money for that, but £10 for the CD is all I can afford at the moment.

Nobody makes albums like this anymore, simple, stripped down, yet so effective and the eight year since Gillian’s last was I’m sure for her fan’s well worth the wait. As I mentioned earlier for me this is her debut and what a fantastic one it is too, this is already on my shortlist for album of the year and I only hope there is a UK tour in the making, but lets hope they can avoid the big venues, this is intimate music that is served better by intimate surroundings. We may not have a porch and a swing chair but I can recommend a few small venues in Buckingham she should consider.

Another interesting aspect of this CD is the extent they went to to print the cover art, employing the old traditions of manual printing presses and metal stamps. Although I can’t confirm if this was used on the UK release, and I suspect not looking at my version, there is an interesting video on the initial quantity that was made.

So you might still be able to hear the album being streamed at the moment, though not on NPR anymore, but don’t bother just go and buy it, you won’t regret it.

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