The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined

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‘Nashville Obsolete’

Jan 18, 2017

There's a reason why pretty much everything to come from the house of David Rawlings and Gillian Welch immediately goes to the top of every Americana list on planet Earth. They are a pair of formidable talents — artists who precisely evoke the essence of traditional country music yet never sound like Americana mockingbirds.

For this record — a compact set of just seven tunes spanning about 45 minutes — they once again sow the seeds of traditional country, nurture them with modern sensibility, and reap their own unique harvest. There's Nashville in the water and Southern California in the air on "The Weekend," a tune that presents Rawlings and Welch singing harmony from note one. It feels like a 40-year flashback in a Laurel Canyon time machine, with a short stay at Bradley's Barn. "Short Haired Woman Blues," too, has a certain cowgirl-in-the-sand brand of shimmer, a slow-weaving bonfire-on-the-beach sing-along punctuated by gentle string accents. The epic, 11-minute narrative of "The Trip" is a stream of consciousness expedition into the exquisite — their poetry like Dylan, their textures like the Byrds. "The Bodysnatchers" is a supernatural story of supernatural superstitions, the ghosts in the hollow, the monsters under the bed. Rawlings and Welch pick up the tempo for the rail-riding rumble of "The Last Pharaoh," get a bit buttery on "Candy," and shoot for the plaintive soul of the plains on "Pilgrim (You can't Go Home)." 

With Brittany Haas, Jordan Tice, Willie Watson, and Paul Kowert in tow, the team of Rawlings and Welch have made another strong record to add to their growing repertoire.

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