Artist: David Rawlings
Album: Poor David’s Almanack
Label: Acony Records
Release Date: 08.11.2017
David Rawlings is often associated with his songwriter and performing partner, Americana award-winning Gillian Welch. Here, however, although Welch does indeed feature at times, the spotlight is firmly focussed on Rawlings himself as a soloist and singer-songwriter in the tradition.
The ten tracks included have an eerily familiar sound, as if they’ve been around for years if not generations. It’s something of a surprise therefore to discover that Rawlings is by far the writer here. Released on his own label, Acony Records (a joint venture with Welch), and recorded at Nashville’s legendary Woodland Sounds Studio, the album hi-lights Rawlings clear command of traditional, Americana and roots music with a striking depth and quality.
In recent years Rawlings has been working with the David Rawlings Machine but here we have a stripped-down, pared-to-the-bone release where his own voice and strikingly original fretwork ring out clearly throughout. There are times when fiddles blaze along in the background, followed by strongly strummed guitar rhythms, then that delightful, soulful and distinctive, signature lead-guitar-work that Rawlings is known for bursts out and simply sucks you back into the track. In truth, it’s interesting to hear Rawlings voice with such clarity, stripped of support from Welch or others, and it surely illustrates just why he is evidently such a major force, an important part of the Nashville music machine.