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CNN Gillian Welch Feature

CNN Gillian Welch Feature

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Published by Andrew Iden

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Published by: Andrew Iden on Mar 23, 2012
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-- Gillian Welch was trying too hard. After her 2003 release "SoulJourney," she and her musicalpartner  Dave Rawlings, were at the forefront of the contemporary folk musicmovement. But as the public was clamoring for their next effort, thetwo were not happy with their latest material."It wasn't really writer's block -- there are notebooks full of songs,"Welch said while she and Rawlings barrelled down the highway totheir next show. "If I were going to explain how (the songs) failed, it'sstill a slight mystery to me. Because a bunch of them seemed reallyclose, and yet we just gave up on them."When they finally found the right songs in late 2010, they released"The Harrow and the Harvest.""I think what was happening with this record in the microcosm is wehad to stop trying so overtly hard," Rawlings said."Because we'd done a lot of the mental work you have to do but weweren't ever relaxing enough to sort of let the thought come."In order to stretch out and relieve some of that self-imposedpressure, Welch and Rawlings decided to slow things down. Insteadof flying to shows, they started driving.Welch said they realized that "the last thing we needed was thismode of travel that kind of does everything in its power to negatethe fact you are moving.""All the regimentation of it was kind of bad for our heads." As their mode of travel slowed, their rate musical output increased
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Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings slow itdown
Andrew Iden
 August 2, 2011 7:53 p.m. EDT
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Singer Gillian Welch and musicalpartner Dave Rawlings struggledwith latest projectThe pair started driving to their shows and finished songs eightyears in the makingThey contributed to the latestrecord fromThe Decemberists
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dramatically.In addition to "Harrow and the Harvest," Welch worked with Rawlingson his own album, "Friend of a Friend," and both contributed to thelatest record from The Decemberists."Your thoughts gather weight as you travel on the ground, and seethe country, as you see things go past you," Rawlings said. "Andyou actually have some experiences between point A and point Byou take with you. In an odd way it feels like it gives you more time."While all of the records Welch has released bare her name,Rawlings is just as much a part of the sound, be it from behind themicrophone as a producer, or wielding his distinctive acoustic guitar chops. After working with other musicians in a number of differentcapacities, the two were ready to get back to working as a duo."After the eight-year break, I feel like we had a certain amount of pent up ferocity for duets," Welch said."That was the first thing I feel like was absolutely settled about thisrecord was, OK this is going to be just the two of us, you know, I feellike we respond very well to a certain amount of isolationism.""Harvest" isn't a drastic departure from the folk sound that's madethem such a staple in the Americana music community. They are stilldealing with melancholy themes, and showcase lyrics that seem tohave jumped off the pages of a John Steinbeck novel.The lush acoustic sound that Welch and Rawlings have developedin the studio continues on this album."I'm so proud to have put this out into the world as a document of what acoustic guitars sound like. You know? Because at this pointwe've kind of devoted our lives to that sound," Welch said."The sound waves are actually mixing in the air and going into themicrophones" as opposed to using mics on the individualinstruments and voices and recording them separately."It's a subtle difference, but to me it's a profound difference."
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