A Friend Of A Friend (Acony)
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.
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)