Some things are worth waiting for and Gillian Welch's first release in eight years is one of them. Already a star among folk troubadours, Welch–accompanied by long-time partner David Rawlings—has cemented her reputation with The Harrow & The Harvest, a masterly album. Fans of Welch will find familiar terrain in these 10 new songs—sparse guitar and banjo, lyrics that invoke the spirit of Appalachia and the Ozarks, whiskey and fallen angels. And, as always, that otherworldly harmonizing the duo is known for, which is better now than ever.
But keen-eared fans might hear something new, too. These songs sound more personal; this isn't fictitious "Miss Ohio" shirking a wedding gown, there's something intimate going on here. "In The Way that it Goes," Welch tells of friends lost and lives gone awry, while "Tennessee" (a song with a phenomenal chorus) reflects on weakness, desire, and home. Yet amidst such bluesy laments, some sun shines. In "Hard Times," a plowman reflects to his mule, "It's a mean old world" but "hard times ain't gonna rule my mind no more." In the plowman, we hear Welch's long-awaited triumph.
Gillian Welch plays the Wilma Theatre Sunday, July 17, at 8 PM. $30/$26.50 advance. Sold out.