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|Dave Rawlings Machine||Primary Artist|
|Benmont Tench||Organ, Piano, Wurlitzer|
|Gillian Welch||Guitar, Percussion, Vocals|
|David Rawlings||Banjo, Guitar, Percussion, Celeste, Vocals|
|Willie Watson||Guitar, Vocals|
|Ketcham Secor||Fiddle, Harmonica, Bass (Vocal), Vocals|
|Jessica van Velzen||Strings|
|Nathaniel Walcott||Organ, Trumpet|
|Jimmie Haskell||String Arrangements|
|David Rawlings||Composer, Producer|
|Luke Gilfeather||Studio Manager|
Posted October 1, 2010
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."
Posted February 22, 2010
No text was provided for this review.