Top positive review
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Destined to be one of the all-time great albums
on 24 August 2004
I'm a bit of a Johnny-come-lately where Gillian Welch (and Dave Rawlings) are concerned. I saw Joan Baez at the Summer Sundae in Leicester last year and then some live performances on TV. When I bought her last album 'Dark Chords on a Big Guitar' I found that two of my favourite songs were written by Gillan Welch, who I'd vaguely recalled from seeing a concert (on TV again) by people involved with the soundtrack of 'O Brother, where art thou?'. So I took the plunge and bought this.
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.