The Harrow & The Harvest
Reviewed by Michael Lohr
It would be fair to say that for all of us Gillian Welch fans at-large, we truly wish she would record on a more regular basis. That being said, the arrival of a new record is a cause for celebration.
Dubbed the Queen of rustic, Gothic Americana, Welch and life-partner Dave Rawlings pen tunes that tap into a certain spooky vibe. She spins the kind of tale that will make the hairs on your neck stand on edge and bathe you in a wash of cold chills. With songs such as “Silver Dagger” we see the countryside through the ghost eyes of a murder victim. “Scarlet Town” chafes at the soul with the blackest of raven feathers, hinting at darker secrets buried within. While songs like “Tennessee” and “The Way the Whole Thing Ends” accentuate the undertow of sorrow that permeates existence in Appalachia, a fatalistic din that is the soundtrack of life in poverty-stricken, forgotten rural America.
Since 2003’s “Soul Journey,” Welch worked with The Decemberists, while Rawlings released what essentially was a solo album, “Friend of a Friend” in 2009. They did some sporadic touring here and there, but for the most part, silence. Now with the darkly dazzling “The Harrow & The Harvest” the agonizing wait is over.