Album Reviews

Gillian Welch

Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg

Artist:     Gillian Welch

Album:     Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg

Label:     Acony Records

Release Date:     11/25/2016

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The latest– indeed, first for a few years– release from Appalachian country-Americana singer/songwriter Welch, this is well over an hour of top-dollar stuff. Welch and partner Dave Rawlings have turned out a release that must be the  end-result, the profits of many hours searching thru a substantial hoard of aged tapes and home-recordings, and it’s been time decidedly well spent.

This is Welch at her best, an almost fun double album, which is a bit like saying Lucinda Williams is always a bundle of laughs, a paradox and contradiction in terms in many ways. Welch is always interesting, arresting, talented and often introspective. Anyone who has caught her live act, especially back at the outset of her career, will recall her hunched, as if embarrassed to be there, over her guitar, head-down and singing into the guitar body more than the mic.

With this album, Welch looks back over around twenty years of playing, performing, writing and recording, an offering that was personally collated and mined from a huge collection of raw takes cut at home with alternative versions, simple basic demos and studio outtakes never released that originally formed part of her debut Grammy-nominated Revival album two decades ago.

For my part, I was surprised to note that a few songs came from Welch’s pen as they are numbers I always associate with Tim and Mollie O’Brien back in the day. Indeed, they were songs she wrote, taped, handed over to Tim O’Brien, who then added them to his own repertoire and recordings over the years, helping establish Welch as a Nashville talent to watch.

Anyone who is a fan of this feisty country lady will sensibly crave this release. A bit of pure magic from a wonderful U.S. treasure.

-Iain Patience

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