Good news though, this has two grammy nominations: Best Folk Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. So interesting to see the categories that don't set people into genres.
So, Gillian usually sings with musical partner David Rawlings. Their style is described as "sparse and dark," and contains elements of Appalachian music, bluegrass, and Americana. This is their fifth studio album. It was, however, her first album in about eight years.
The reason for the long album? Apparently just because they didn't like anything that they were coming up with enough to actually make a full release, despite having 2-3 records worth of material. Most of these songs, though, are only first or second takes, so the process really wound up not being difficult, just a matter of patience.
Se lets see just how great patience as a virtue proved to be.
"Scarlet Town" does immediately give the feeling of folk, but everyone's right - her voice has a darkness. It's a voice of a broken, hurt woman who's been left in a degrading place. Eh, maybe that's looking too far into it. But if you listen, you have to admit, we're not dealing with Carrie Underwood here.
Things get slowed down, but no happier, with "Dark Turn of Mind." It's almost more of a warning to the next one after the last boy was, well, an idiot. Although, I guess if you count her sentiment that she'll be happy so long as he doesn't screw it all up, that's a happy sentiment. Musically, I guess is what I haven't touched on. It's folk, so it's simple.
Check out some live performances, beginning with our next track, "The Way It Will Be."
This one is followed immediately by the much more up-beat toned "The Way It Goes."
"Tennessee" is about the love for whisky. Kidding, that's not really what it's about. It's got a much more depressing connotation than that, and a love for the state and what you feel there is bound throughout. Again, it's an incredibly peaceful, relaxing song musically, allowing for some serious reflection and meditation.
Anything with dixie in the title has always struck me as probably a little down-home, but "Down Along the Dixie Line" actually takes it to a much more mellow place. The guitar isn't moaning sadness in this one as much as the other songs. Again, it's reminiscent, but I have to say, I noticed something that makes her a storyteller, instead of these pieces about the South being reflective - she was born in New York, moved to LA, and only in her career has been a Nashville transplant. Could have fooled me there.
"Six White Horses" was only available to me in live performance form on YouTube. This girl is such a frickin' southern down-home good-ol' chick, it's hilarious. It's easy to tell how much she enjoys doing what she is, no matter what others think about the music. The looks on her face in videos do make me wonder why she didn't strive to just release more music, if she loves it so much though. It seems like she does specifically what she enjoys, so why not keep on that?
"We're gonna make it yet down the road." "Hard Times" is probably the most uplifting song on the album. I'm not necessarily looking for just positive songs to hear again, but this one sticks out to me. It's slow and easy to hear, and tells a definite story. It's relatable, too, when you need it to be.
"Silver Dagger" is very confusing to me, mostly because I'm not sure how it all relates back to the title at all. I really hate songs like that. Okay, towards the end it makes more sense, and it really a depressing song. It's just hard to get to that point and be okay with the entire number.
The final song to play us out is titled, appropriately, "The Way The Whole Thing Ends." Someone on the video I listened to this through makes an excellent observation on the record - it haunts, and leaves you wondering what just happened. This song wraps the whole thing up in very much the same nature.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Hard Times" - YouTube
Regardless, hm. Final thoughts on this album. It was very... okay. I didn't hate the experience, but I don't think I took a lot away from it. I feel like the songs were important to the musicians perhaps, but there's no connection back to the audience through them. I admire the care taken in selection though, and appreciate art as always.