Volume 95, Issue 11

Wednesday, September 19, 2001
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Big Wreck enjoys the greedy pleasures of fame

Q-Burns Abstract Magic: makin' DJs play Britney

Sarah Slean: a drunk, old woman

Welch's voice a Timeless entity

Welch's voice a Timeless entity

Gillian Welch

Time (The Revelator)

Acony Records

Four 1/2 Stars (out of five)

There's no dust to wipe off any of Gillian Welch's records. She comes in clean and clear.

Since her 1996 debut, Revival, Welch has produced fresh music which sounds like it originated a long time ago. Still, she is probably best known for her striking duet with Alison Krauss, that covered the gospel song "I'll Fly Away," for the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

Time (The Revelator), Welch's third release, continues her record of outstandingly understated recordings. Along with her musical partner and brilliant multi-instrumentalist David Rawlings, Welch writes and performs original and timeless music.

The album captures Welch and Rawlings' distinct, earthy harmonies over ten consistently intriguing tracks.

For instance, Welch sings honestly about making out with her first boyfriend while a Steve Miller Band record played "My First Lover."

She longs to electrify her soul on the ironically sparse "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" – a song previously recorded for T-Bone Burnett''s live concert recording of artists who appear on the Oh Brother soundtrack.

If there is a common theme connecting Welch's songs, it's the constant sense of longing for time passed. Welch laments that while there may be more clarity in the present, things may have been better in the past. This sense of pondering the past's worth in the present is a powerful theme on Time.

Welch begins by singing of time as the revelator – the teller of all – but completes it with a dream of a highway back to the infamous "you."

Welch's sound and physical appearance are also indicative of this look to the past, in which Welch seems to find a vibrant part of her present. The entirely acoustic instrumentation, the photos in the CD inset and Welch's vocals are all very surreal in the age of electronic trickery and synthetically produced pop music.

For now, only Time will reveal the lasting impact of Welch's wonderfully pure sound.

–Zach Peterson

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