Dave Rawlings Machine

A Friend Of A Friend (Acony)


Rating: NNNN


Fans of Gillian Welch will love Dave Rawlings’s debut solo album. For one, Welch, Rawlings’s long-time musical partner, appears all over it, singing reedy, yodelling harmonies over his Dylanesque tenor, and as co-writer on five of the nine tunes. Members of the Old Crow Medicine Show, Rawlings’s proteges, also lend their writing and playing chops, and there’s a melancholy mid-album “mashup” of Bright Eyes’ Method Acting and Neil Young’s Cortez The Killer.

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But this outside assistance and influence never suggest Rawlings can’t stand on his own. Besides turning out impeccable vocal, guitar and banjo performances, he infuses each song with a timeless minimalism undoubtedly developed through years of propping up others. To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High), which first appeared on Ryan Adams’s Heartbreaker album, is a triumph, while Sweet Tooth packs some of the funniest lyrics of the year.

Top track: To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)

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