gillian welch – soul journey

this has a bit more of what i associate with traditional country music than is anywhere else here. but i don’t hate it. in fact, many of the songs are notable and infectious, and shared much further afield. and it makes me think on what musicians and fans need to know about the history of anything to approach the music. i will come back to this at another point.

there’s also more than one seeming indirect connection to will oldham, the obvious being that this album contains a traditional song, i had a real good mother and father which has also been performed by him and family. they’re equal in spare beauty.

but the other similarity is the remarkable blend of stories and ways of telling them. the more quiet waves of acoustic guitar with voice(s) that form an alternative inner world for any listener; the almost-rock of others that rise above and outwards. thankfully, nothing’s rushed.

the stand-outs are what must be her best-known song by now, look at miss ohio, along with wayside/back in time, one monkey, lowlands, and difficult-to-pick-most-gorgeous, i made a lovers prayer. i can only imagine how fantastic it would have been to have had her songs in my back pocket when i really needed them, in the few years after this first came out.

when i listen to this album, i realise i should, or do love it as much as time (the revelator). they are often slightly and sometimes vastly different aesthetics in some ways, but i feel like i’ve had all her music in my life forever. and that has to stand for something…

[this album also happens to be subject to one of the best pitchfork reviews ever, by william bowers, with whom i did not always agree]

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