Monday, October 19, 2009

Dave Rawlings Readies Debut....

I mentioned the other day that the long-awaited Gillian Welch follow-up to 2003's Soul Journey is finally coming, albeit in the form of The Dave Rawlings Machine. Now that we have full details including track list, release date, album art, and pre-order, I thought I outta give this release its own post.A Friend of a Friend is the first solo album from Dave Rawlings, although he has collaborated (and played alongside) Gillian Welch throughout her career. In addition, the duo has been instrumental in helping a couple of my favorite artists get their recording feet on the ground. Dave pays homage to these friends on his album, due out November 17th on Acony Records, by re-recording songs co-written with Ryan Adams ('To Be Young') and Old Crow Medicine Show ('I Hear Them All').

Those co-writes, along with five other original songs make up with bulk of the album, with an interesting cover medley of Conor Oberst's 'Method Acting' and Neil Young's 'Cortez The Killer' thrown in the mix. I'm most looking forward to the lead-track 'Ruby' and 'Sweet Tooth,' both of which I vividly remember from The Big Surprise Tour. As expected, Gillian lends her siren vocals throughout the album, and Old Crow Medicine Show will help fill out arrangements.

1. Ruby
2. To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
3. I Hear Them All
4. Method Acting/Cortez The Killer

5. Sweet Tooth *

6. How's About You

7. It's Too Easy

8. Monkey And The Engineer

9. Bells of Harlem

Pre-order now at Amazon - $11.99

I wish I had a promo track to offer, but until then, enjoy this rip of 'Sweet Tooth' from the No Depression Music Festival in July:
*Dave Rawlings Machine - Sweet Tooth (live)

Here are some notes and quotes I found regarding the recording process:

Making A Friend of a Friend, Rawlings discovered that different considerations applied when recording himself singing melody instead of harmony. “When I listen to a Gillian record there’s a particular place and feeling in it that has an awful lot to do with the sound of her voice,” Rawlings says. “A lot of things change from track to track, but that has always been the constant. And a lot of the arrangements we’d worked out over the years---the way we put chords, the way we sing together---I was shocked at how little they worked for my voice or my record. We had learned to make records in a particular way because we were always framing her voice, which is this large, takes-up-a-lot-of-space, very intimate, very good sounding thing, a beautiful tone, so you can frame it in a skeletal way. It almost seems to me that the less you put on her records, the more powerful they are, but when we started working that way with my voice, which is so different, it turned out that nothing from that approach was valid, so we had to find different sounds and treatments that we were happy with. I was really surprised when we started that we were in territory as uncharted as we were. We broke new ground from necessity.”

Spontaneity was an important part of the recording. “I've learned over time that as a lead singer, I do my best singing live and on early takes, so it was essential that we capture the band quickly and in an organic way. So when we stood in a circle to rehearse the first song I thought, ‘Well, I guess we better put a mic in the center and be done with it.’ It tied my hands as far as mixing the vocals went, but it helped us capture something in the air. I knew that Gillian and I would be at the core of the recordings, but I became interested in a particular acoustic sound with more vocal parts that I knew the Crows could conjure up. Karl, Benmont and Nate were the icing on the cake.”

A Friend of a Friend has more lavish arrangements than songs from the Gillian Welch catalog typically do. They are more boisterous, but they are built on the same careful spine that Welch songs are. Rawlings’s sly and succinct guitar playing is embedded within ensemble play as opposed to carrying the bulk of the arrangement. The songs are exuberant, sturdy, and carefully constructed, but they also reverberate poetically. The music on A Friend of a Friend is cousin to the deftly modern and haunting music that Welch and Rawlings are known for, but it has here been expanded; the crowd is larger, the party more robust, but the room is the same room.

I already got my tickets to The Dave Rawlings Machine at The Parish Room in Austin and found out that the machine (which will include Rawlings, Welch, Secor, Watson, and Jahnig) will be doing an in-store performance at Waterloo Records earlier that day. Check 'em out if they are heading your way.

Nov 28 2009 8:00P
The Melting Point Athens, Georgia
Nov 29 2009 8:00P
The Orange Peel Asheville, North Carolina
Nov 30 2009 8:00P
Cat’s Cradle Carrboro, North Carolina
Dec 1 2009 8:00P
Bijou Theatre Knoxville, Tennessee
Dec 3 2009 8:15P
Exit / In Nashville, Tennessee
Dec 4 2009 9:00P
Headliners Music Hall Louisville, Kentucky
Dec 5 2009 8:00P
Bluebird Nightclub Bloomington, Indiana
Dec 6 2009 7:30P
Abbey Pub Chicago, Illinois
Dec 7 2009 8:00P
High Noon Saloon Madison, Wisconsin
Dec 9 2009 8:00P
Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis, Minnesota
Dec 10 2009 8:00P
The Waiting Room Omaha, Nebraska
Dec 11 2009 8:00P
Granada Theatre Lawrence, Kansas
Dec 13 2009 7:30P
The Parish Austin, Texas
Dec 14 2009 7:30P
The Parish Austin, Texas


  1. Hey there. Thanks for the great post. I wish they were heading to the mid-atlantic. They DO NOT like the d.c. area. Seem to avoid it at all costs.

    What a great show that'll be!! With Old Crow!! The Parish is a great venue. ENJOY!!!

  2. Soul Journey (2003) was the last Gillian Welch record