Finally. After years as "the guy who plays with Gillian Welch," Dave Rawlings has released his own solo album. And, not surprisingly, the lanky tenor with the signature flatpicking guitar style has created one humdinger of a debut. (Even if it is awfully short at just nine songs.) Drawing deeply on Appalachian folk, bluegrass and old-time country, Rawlings proves definitively that his Americana-roots style played on archtop guitar is well on its way to legendary status.
Yet to call this a solo album is misleading. Despite being released under the Dave Rawlings Machine name, it could just as easily be another "Gillian and Dave" duet album; she sings on nearly every song. And in keeping with the "friend of a friend" theme, Rawlings welcomes not only Welch, but Old Crow Medicine Show fiddler Ketch Secor, and covers tunes by Bright Eyes, Neil Young and Ryan Adams. Not that his penchant for collaboration and covers is a bad thing; that distinct, sometimes-bouncy, sometimes-wistful, low-fi sound that we all associate with Rawlings wouldn't be the same if it truly was just him playing alone.
Here's to a perfect springtime, front-porch album. Gather some buddies—Rawlings is best heard with friends, both his and yours.