Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend of A Friend and Two Amoeba Instores!

Posted by Miss Ess, February 3, 2010 03:07pm | Post a Comment
If you are anything like me, you have been missing Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, two of the finest songwriters around! There hadn't been a new release from the twosome (who usually record under the misleading single name "Gillian Welch") for 6 years! And sure, they've toured some, always playing the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival here in SF, but us diehards, we've been waiting what feels like forever some new material here!

And finally...

I'm so pleased to report that the Welch/Rawlings drought is over. New project Dave Rawlings Machine released A Friend of A Friend this past November! And, even better (if you are in the Bay Area or Los Angeles anyway), they will be playing instores at Amoeba Hollywood Feb 4 and Amoeba SF Feb 9!! The time has come at last to get our fix. (See pics from the SF instore here!)

I finally got to hear A Friend of A Friend this past week. The album's production and arrangements have a more upbeat and orchestrated feel in spots than any of the albums under the Gillian Welch banner. I tend to like my music as doom and gloomy as it can get, so this change feels a bit strange, but when you really listen to the lyrics, in spots it's as much of a downer as you want it to be! It's just the music itself on several tracks that feels more buoyant than usual. The album is kind of Brian Wilson-esque in that way (and only that way!). It's also more padded out with strings, singers and such, I think due to the collaboration with Old Crow Medicine Show.

But then again, aside from the fact that David Rawlings is the lead singer on everything, and the fact that he wrote a large portion of the songs without Gillian, much of it still sounds a whole lot like a Gillian Welch record. Maybe he got tired of being out of the spotlight in Gillian Welch and was ready to switch it up and take the lead! Gillian is still there on many of the tracks, matching David in warm harmonies.

Track for track, the album is solid, although it's a bit disappointing that relatively few of the songs are new material; the rest are covers, some of them songs that Rawlings partially wrote that have appeared on other artists' albums. That said, the "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)" cover, a song Rawlings wrote with Ryan Adams and that appeared on his Heartbreaker, is great and raucous. "Sweet Tooth" is a perfect example of flawless songwriting skill, as is "It's Too Easy." Love the bass singing on "Ruby." Even the Neil Young cover, "Cortez the Killer" (added into a cover of Conor Oberst's "Method Acting") doesn't bug me, and I tend to be picky about Neil covers. I must say though, the songs I like best on this album are the quieter, more well-crafted ones that sounds like they'd be more at home on a Gillian Welch record.

If this is as close to a new "Gillian Welch" (the two headed beast) album that we get for a while, I'm ok with that. It's whet my appetite for more...Whether it comes as Dave Rawlings Machine or Gillian Welch, I'll take it either

Relevant Tags

David Rawlings (3), Gillian Welch (6), David Rawlings Machine (1), Old Crow Medicine Show (3)