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Time (The Revelator)
     

Time (The Revelator)

4.6 6
by Gillian Welch
 
With only their guitars, banjos, mandolins, voices, and original songs, Gillian Welch and her redoubtable collaborator, David Rawlings, have fashioned a powerful, labyrinthine, time warp of a record. This elegantly recorded duo takes its cue from mournful, Appalachian folk songs and folklore. But eerily enough, there's something uniquely contemporary here --

Overview

With only their guitars, banjos, mandolins, voices, and original songs, Gillian Welch and her redoubtable collaborator, David Rawlings, have fashioned a powerful, labyrinthine, time warp of a record. This elegantly recorded duo takes its cue from mournful, Appalachian folk songs and folklore. But eerily enough, there's something uniquely contemporary here -- glistening flat-picking, air-brushed reverb on the bluesy guitar work, and lyrics that mine folk themes (love, commitment, and Faustian bargains made and then paid for dearly) with a poetic, modern cool. "Dear Someone" is a dreamy and romantic paean to a significant other; "My First Lover" is a tortured, regretful account of a night of drunken revelry; bright and bouncy, "The Red Clay Halo" features a sparkling Rawlings solo enlivening its narrator's assertion of the glory that awaits in Heaven. Rawlings's step-it-up-and-go guitar work on the live recording of "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" (taken from the Down from the Mountain collection) evokes the big beat even as his and Welch's close harmony singing conjures the spirit of the Louvin Brothers. "Elvis Presley Blues" is a lilting country blues meditation on the tragic price visionaries pay, ultimately finding a connection between the Hillbilly Cat and that hammerin' man of myth, John Henry. The Welch-Rawlings sound signature reaches its apex on the 14-minute album-closing epic, "I Dream a Highway." This deliberately paced, ambitious work seems to describe a hallucinatory journey that begins on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and with each verse ascends further into the ether of imagination. Fevered lines such as "I'm an indisguisable shade of twilight" and "I'll take you as a viper into my head" (and another John Henry reference in the lyric "I want to die with a hammer in my hand") are offset by a wistful, refrain, "I dreamed a highway back to you," pulling the narrative back from the surreal. Time (The Revelator) could not be better titled: The secrets herein have to be dug out, and that takes a while. But the effort is well worth it.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Zac Johnson
Gillian Welch's third album, Time (The Revelator), finds the folk vocalist and musician shifting her attention from achingly beautiful mountain ballads to achingly beautiful pop
ock ballads. Regarding this album, Welch states: "As opposed to being little tiny folk songs or traditional songs, they're really tiny rock songs. They're just performed in this acoustic setting. In our heads we went electric without changing instruments." This philosophy is most evident in songs like "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" and "Elvis Presley Blues," with her longtime collaborator David Rawlings accompanying her on Louvin-esque high harmonies and vintage guitar. Fans of the duo's neo-old-timey sound will be happy to hear a few of their familiar, intimate dust bowl folk songs peering through the fence posts. The banjo-driven "My First Lover" could've been recorded on Alan Lomax's back porch, while the title track aches and moans along with the best of her two previous albums. Rawlings' production on the album remains warm and intimate throughout, capturing the subtleties of the acoustic instruments and earthy harmonies. Highlights include the passionate romp "Red Clay Halo," which includes the best elements of time-honored folk stylings and their newfound passion for rock & roll, and the hushed awe that captures the audience in the Ryman Auditorium during the live recording of "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll." Time (The Revelator) ends with an unprecedented 15-minute track called "I Dream a Highway," which drifts lazily through the album's final moments, sweetly dozing in the current like Huck and Jim's Mississippi River afternoons. Welch and Rawlings are at the top of their form and continue to make the best Americana recordings without resorting to drenching their albums in guest stars, but by writing and performing heartfelt songs that speak with a clear and undeniable honesty.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/31/2001
Label:
Acony Records
UPC:
0805147010321
catalogNumber:
470103
Rank:
13826

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Time (The Revelator) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville on April 20th and was blown away. Welch's songwriting is a woven tapestry of the America consciousness, blending legends, folklore and traditional song; Rawlings' guitar playing is gritty and intense - you lose yourself in swirling scales and solos (he obviously deserves billing with Welch on the albums); and, the harmonizing of their voices is flawless. This album is a clear progression from their past efforts. Hell Among the Yearlings, Welch's last album, was basically traditional material (Welch trying to be someone from deep Appallacia). In Time, it seems as though she has fully absorbed the ghosts of the folk giants and channeled them through her own voice. I especially like ''My First Lover' - the banjo gives the song a dirty, earthy percussive sound; ''Red Clay Halo''; ''April the 14th'' with its historical references; ''Elvis Presley Blues'' and ''Everything is Free.''
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be one of the more well conceived albums I've ever heard or heard of with David Rawlings attention to detail and Gillian Welch's songwriting. The music never gets to big for the lyrics, staying subtle with just twin acoustic guitars and a banjo appearance as instrumentation. The music itself is closer to Doc Watson or a clearer Woody Guthrie but the obsessive-historical and repetitive themes in her songwriting are similar to Neutral Milk Hotel's ''In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'' or late 60's Bob Dylan. This is a brilliant record and would appeal to a Garth Brooks fan or a Jeff Mangum fan and that's pretty rare.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gillian Welch's music lies somewhere off to the side of alt. country, between folk-rock and old-timey music. She writes from her soul, rare these days, but a wonderful experience. Her voice is also wonderful. This album is worth it just for ''Red Clay Halo'' and ''I Want to Sing that Rock and Roll''.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first I didn't like this album as much as Welch's previous ones, but then I noticed myself singing the lyrics in my head when I was driving or working. That's when I realized it had taken a few good listens to grow on me, but indeed it had! Listening to music in which the musicians are the ones with the talent rather than the producers, sound engineers, PR agents, and personal body trainers is such a pleasure. And Welch will deliver this pleasure straight to your ears.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was sitting on the sofa, lost in my third listen to this album when my partner, going through mail in the dining room, said, ''What is that? It's beautiful.'' Jill doesn't use ''beautiful'' lightly. Welch and Rawlings have lived with, studied, practiced, and played low-class American music so throroughly that what they write and play sounds timeless. This album has me singing to myself and meditating on the connections between Elvis, John Henry, Martin Luther King, Steve Miller, Ralph Stanley, Mississippi John Hurt, Loretta Lynn, and Bob Dylan--as well as both my grandmothers. It will fill you with longing and the sweet joy of just barely surviving in the face of tragedy. Buy it. You'll like it. I promise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago