A Friend of a Friend

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
Ironically, the most telling line on Dave Rawlings' first album as a frontman comes from one of the few tracks he didn't write. On his version of the Bright Eyes song "Method Acting," imagine a more direct explanation of A Friend of a Friend's genesis. Singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer Rawlings has worked with Bright Eyes and Old Crow Medicine Show in the past, and members of both bands return the favor by appearing here, but of course he's best-known for being Gillian Welch's musical foil throughout her career. After a decade-and-a-half spent as the shadowy figure in the background, chiming in with those reedy harmonies and concise guitar licks on demand, Rawlings is long overdue for this solo debut. While he has ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
Ironically, the most telling line on Dave Rawlings' first album as a frontman comes from one of the few tracks he didn't write. On his version of the Bright Eyes song "Method Acting," imagine a more direct explanation of A Friend of a Friend's genesis. Singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer Rawlings has worked with Bright Eyes and Old Crow Medicine Show in the past, and members of both bands return the favor by appearing here, but of course he's best-known for being Gillian Welch's musical foil throughout her career. After a decade-and-a-half spent as the shadowy figure in the background, chiming in with those reedy harmonies and concise guitar licks on demand, Rawlings is long overdue for this solo debut. While he has hidden light under a proverbial bushel, he hasn't been concealing any unexpected predilections -- the overall approach here is pretty much in line with that of the albums he's made with Welch, which makes sense, considering that he was the producer on half of those. The biggest difference is a slightly more expanded sonic palette, a result of Rawlings bringing his aforementioned buddies on board, in addition to Tom Petty's ivory-tickler Benmont Tench and of course, longtime singing partner Welch. But even though a string section pops up on a couple of tunes, A Friend of a Friend is essentially a low-key, acoustic-based Americana outing that feels more like a 21st century version of the early-'70s Laurel Canyon cowboy aesthetic than anything else. The old, new, borrowed and blue song selection is balanced to present a quintessential picture of where Rawlings is coming from; he tackles Ryan Adams and Old Crow tunes he co-wrote, covers cohorts Bright Eyes as well as inspirations Neil Young and Jesse Fuller, and rounds things out with a batch of new Rawlings/Welch compositions. And while he doesn't exactly adopt an in-your-face approach to the leading-man role, preferring to become part of the powerful collective he's assembled, Rawlings proves himself fully capable of taking the reins and leading this horse wherever he wants it to go.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/17/2009
  • Label: Acony Records
  • UPC: 805147090828
  • Catalog Number: 470908
  • Sales rank: 14,245

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Dave Rawlings Machine Primary Artist
Benmont Tench Organ, Piano, Wurlitzer
Kevin Hayes Guitjo
Karl Himmel Drums
Peter Kent Strings
John Wittenberg Strings
Cameron Stone Strings
Gillian Welch Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
Julie Rogers Strings
David Rawlings Banjo, Guitar, Percussion, Celeste, Vocals
Willie Watson Guitar, Vocals
Songa Lee Strings
Ketcham Secor Fiddle, Harmonica, Bass (Vocal), Vocals
Morgan Jahnig Bass
Sharon Jackson Strings
Jessica van Velzen Strings
Erika Walczak Strings
Nathaniel Walcott Organ, Trumpet
Technical Credits
Jesse Fuller Composer
Neil Young Composer
Jimmie Haskell String Arrangements
Stephen Marcussen Mastering
Mike Poole Engineer
Gillian Welch Composer
David Rawlings Composer, Producer
Matt Andrews Engineer
Ryan Adams Composer
Conor Oberst Composer
Ketcham Secor Composer
Morgan Nagler Composer
Luke Gilfeather Studio Manager
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great songs; arrangement is all over the map, though

    Following "Time (The Revelator)" and "Soul Journey," the only way that the musical duo known as Gillian Welch could meet fan expectations after their six-year hiatus was to reincarnate as a different brand, led, in due turn, by Dave Rawlings instead of Gillian. Musically, DRM is *almost* the same performance. Gillian Welch fans will say that Gillian has a better voice and should sing lead. Dave Rawlings fans will say that Dave is just her guitar man. I can't argue that Dave isn't a god, or that his name shouldn't be a household name throughout the land, or that he shouldn't sing lead vocal. Up until now, an acoustic duo has seemed the best way to showcase his playing as well as being an unusual holdout in an industry that only sells individuals and bands. If people want Dave to be the next Jerry Garcia, this will mean the end of his primary collaboration with Gillian Welch.

    When Dave sings lead--"Dave Rawlings Machine"--the effect is light and fun. What benefit Dave gets from his own brand is appealing to an entirely different audience. The heroin pace and quietness of some of his most iconic songs as "Gillian Welch"--sadly popularized at Starbucks--has a limited appeal, but the advantage of hearing every note he wrings out of his 1935 Epiphone archtops. DRM had its national debut on the Old Crow Medicine Show Big Surprise Tour, a raucus testosterone-and-Mountain Dew festival totally worthy of following across the U.S. like the Grateful Dead. By the way, criticisms of the influence of Old Crow on Dave Rawlings are a little strange given that Dave produced and promoted OCMS.

    Being under his own label gives Dave freedom, and one limitation of this cd is that it seems to lack artistic coherence other than being the product of a lengthy involvement with Old Crow. There are eight tracks, a fairly compressed introduction to what Dave Rawlings is all about. "Ruby" is a wonderful song with an early 70s southern rock setting that sounds a lot like Gram Parsons, especially with Gillian singing what would be the Emmylou part. But this song is followed immediately by "To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high)" which Dave co-wrote with Ryan Adams on "Heartbreaker," for which the only continuity thereafter seems to be the Old Crow players. This is followed by Dave singing a slow and beautiful version of Old Crow's anthem "I Hear them All." In "Method Acting/Cortez the Killer," Dave is being Bright Eyes (Nooooooo!!!!) or Bob Dylan, then Jerry Garcia singing "The Monkey and the Engineer" for the pot-goofy (with a ragtime jazz trumpet), then Bob Dylan again in "The Bells of Harlem." (Unfortunately, there is no actual Bob Dylan cover on this cd--Dave's version of "Queen Jane Approximately," one of his craziest and best songs--is nowhere to be found.) Three songs, "Sweet Tooth," "How's About You," and "It's Too Easy" sound like they belong on a Gillian Welch record. Can you say identity crisis?

    It's hard to criticize a dude who possesses holy/satanic levels of talent, especially when one of his talents is blending in and writing with someone else. My first impulse was to give this cd 5 stars, but after listening to it, it started to seem so schizophrenic that I really wanted to hear an entire cd of songs like "Ruby" and "The Bells of Harlem."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews