Review: Gillian Welch - Time (the revelator)

Hidden in Gillian Welch's Time(the revelator) is a deeply weird album. Listening for the first time it is Welch's voice that seduces. Possessing a honey melancholy she weaves a spell, drawing you into a place of great intimacy. The sparse production which underlies the vocals adds warmth, relying on the most basic of instruments, just guitar and banjo, to enhance Welshes magic. 

After listening a while however, it’s the words that begin to haunt. Lyrics wind their way through time, place and space, through autobiography and American history and folklore. The songs call back and forward between one another and slyly quote from a country and folk standards and favourites. 

Slowly it dawns what an epic quality this recording has. The songs twist together the now and the then. They encompass the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic, the strangeness of Elvis’ early years, Johnny’s fall from grace at the Grand Ole Opry and the tragic romance of Emmy Lou  and Gram. It’s Grail Marcus’ old weird America updated for the 21st Century. It’s a mystic vision of monumental events and personalities, and their place in our lives and myths. 

Time and distance matter not, these things are woven into our being. 

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