|2. My First Love|
|3. Dear Someone|
|4. Red Clay Halo|
|5. April the 14th Part 1|
|6. I Want to Sing That Rock & Roll|
|7. Elvis Presley Blues|
|8. Ruination Day Part 2|
|9. Everything Is Free|
|10. I Dream a Highway|
I've been blown away by this CD and in my humble opinion the only other album that this can compared it to is Van Morrison's 'Astral Weeks' and I say that as someone who has listened regularly to that particular album for over thirty years.
It has that same stripped down simple instrumentation and haunting lyrical edge. I wont do a song by song comparison but to me 'Madame George' and 'I Dream A Highway' inhabit the same musical space and share the same atmosphere. Both artists were not confined by the length of the track or the obscure, oblique and repetitive nature of the lyrics, sang over very simple guitar chords with a minmum of musical ornamentation.
I was fortunate enough to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Cambridge Folk Festival and if anything they're even more personal and intense playing live. If and when they come back to the UK and you like their music make sure you see them.
As other reviewers have noted, it's a very stripped-down sound, almost reminding me of early Dylan. I find her, similarly, a rather enigmatic artist, and the last song on the album is unusually long, very much the sort of thing that Bob Dylan sometimes goes for. But there's humour in it, too, it's not all serious stuff. And that was also a classic characteristic of Dylan's early work.
Despite the rather basic two-instrument plus one (or two) voice line-up seeming a bit restrictive, in practice it isn't restrictive at all. In fact, I think it's an advantage. Each song has its own musical character, and that's because Welch (and friend!) are highly creative, and don't need to alter the instruments etc to get variation in their overall sound. They've got plenty to say, and they don't run out of ideas. Gillian Welch is surely a major 'find' who deserves a much higher profile, and I'm sure she'll get it. In a somewhat unusual move, the CD includes a 'live' track, which sits very well with the studio numbers. A great album!
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