Three out of Three HeadphonesAlbum: The Harrow and the Harvest

Artist: Gillian Welch

Year: 2011


Gillian Welch is one of those artists who I always like but only occasionally love.  With an eight year gap between albums, fans and critics alike had to wonder which Gillian Welch The Harrow and the Harvest would present.  Would it be the Gillian Welch of 2003’s rather dissapointing Soul’s Journey or the Gillian Welch of the classic Time (The Revelator).

Thankfully, The Harrow and the Harvest presents Welch at her finest.  This album is smooth and sweet and just the right amount of dark.  Yes, the music comes from a style that is a century or more old, but in the hands o Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest feels contemporary and fresh.

A consistent listen from start to finish, The Harrow and the Harvest has barely a weak track to be found.  Opening with the classic-sounding “Scarlett Town”, followed by the appropriately somber “Dark Turn of Mind”, the album moves seamlessly from upbeat folk-tunes to story telling ballads to alt-country sounding rock.  Gillian Welch hits every base here, without losing any steam.

Tracks like “The Way it Goes” are both wistful and fun and the memorable track “Tennessee” does great justice to an old trope of lost religion.  Even choruses of nonsense words like “fa la la, fa la la li” seem gorgeous coming from Welch’s lips.

Folk music isn’t for everyone, but if you like a little twang in your pop, this album is one of the best of the genre I’ve heard in recent years.  It’s an album that invites you in, as though to an old friend’s home and then keeps you entertained and warm all night.