The New Yorker: Twenty Years Of Listening to Gillian Welch
By Jedediah Purdy, September 9, 2016
Gillian Welch, the Los Angeles-raised musician, whose lyrics and voice conjure Appalachian hollows, Dust Bowl highways, and Nashville morphine dens, released her first album, Revival, twenty years ago. Several of the songs sounded as if they might have been written a hundred years earlier. Welch’s alto is rich and tarnished, with a roughness that hints at a tired or heat-baked throat. In “By the Mark,” she promised, “By the sign that shines / Upon His precious skin / I will know my savior / When I come to Him / By the mark where the nails have been.” Welch wrote from the perspective of the type of people the folklorist Alan Lomax had sought out in the nineteen-thirties and forties—poor, usually either exploited or forgotten—whom Lomax and other revivalists saw as carrying organic traditions of sound, feeling, and imagination. In “Annabelle,” a poor sharecropper whose young daughter has died reflects, “Till we’ve all / Gone to Jesus / We can only / Wonder why.” Other songs on Revival were first-person laments, confessions, or boasts from moonshiners, migrant fruit pickers, and bootleggers.
Paste Magazine: Catching Up With Gillian Welch
By Molly Morgan, September 15, 2016
Gillian Welch’s friends thought she had become the victim of some kind of scam when she told them she was going to play a thousand-person audience festival at Cloverleaf Farm outside of Athens, Ga. They thought it was too good to be true. Wildwood Revival, taking place over Aug. 25-27, placed Welch and partner David Rawlings in an open-air barn, playing on Saturday night after a string of far lesser-known acts. That is, far lesser-known in comparison to Welch, who by the way, just landed two spots in our recent list of the 50 Best Alt-Country Albums of All Time, with her debut Revival in the number three spot. It was rare that a band or artist didn’t mention how grateful they were to be on a festival bill with Welch from the stage over the weekend.