Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Dave Rawlings Machine-Nashville Obsolete

Nashville Obsolete is the new album from Dave Rawlings under the moniker the Dave Rawlings Machine and features partner Gillian Welch. It's a sublime album once again anything these two artists put their hand to transcends all labels. The album signals a slight shift away from the old time music that has been the bedrock of their sound, this album has elements of the glory days of the singer songwriter period of the early 70's. Even in more familiar musical moments they never stick to the easy path, each song is unique and deftly textured.

The album sounds like a Cormac McCarthy novel, a foreboding and dark landscape full of desolate characters aimlessly drifting on life's relentless current. The opening track The Weekend has an air of mystery like most Rawlings/Welch songs, this track has a more expansive sound with pervasive strings that give off an air of melancholy. Short Haired Woman Blues sounds like the opening refrain of a southern gothic novel.

I met her on a harvest moon
Once upon a time in the midwest
She told me as we stole away
That she was freer than all the rest.

The song resonates with a haunting darkness against a backdrop of unspoken desperation. There is a distinct southern literary thread that flows through the album, escape and a search for redemption and hope aboard that old harbinger of hope the freight train. The Trip is a drifting laconic tune clocking in at over ten minutes, it captures the idea that somewhere down the road no judgement will befall those who fallen foul elsewhere.

Whistles blowing, people getting on trains
Without knowing where they are going.

Nashville Obsolete closes on more upbeat terms with Pilgrim (You Can't Go Home) those amazing harmonies capture the beauty of old time country and bluegrass. Capturing the gospel strains of the Appalachian hills still it's a tale about sin and redemption in this case is far out of reach. Redemption for the listener though is in every track, this is what great music is, pure and real.

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