Flyinshoes Review

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Here we have the third album release by David Rawlings under his own name to go with five studio records with his musical and otherwise partner, Gillian Welch. The mercurial all-rounder has a wealth of talent accompany him on the record. To the degree it could just as easily and arguably have been better entitled ‘David Rawlings & Friends’, such the generosity of the man he allows them considerable room to perform. His most recent recordings include his albums as the David Rawlings Machine, Nashville Obsolete (2015) and A Friend of A Friend (2011), plus with Welch  Grammy-Nominated The Harrow And The Harvest (2011).


Talking of those friends, Rawlings not only has regular tour partners Welch (vocals, guitar, drums, percussion, bass, bongos and hands and feet on “Money Is The Meat In The Coconut”), Willie Watson (vocals, guitar, banjo) and Brittany Haas (fiddle) but also Paul Kowert (bass) and Old Crow Medicine Show acts Ketch Secor (bass, vocals, fiddle) and Critter Fuqua (vocals on “Good God A Woman”), Austin Hoke (musical saw on “Yup”) and on two tracks Taylor (organ) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums) of Dawes, plus Billy Thomas (drums) on the opening track “Midnight Train” join in the fun.


Listening to the album it sounds like it was made in a homely environment. One where the players dropped by at random, Rawlings version of Dylan - The Band’s The Basement Tapes? To the melody of “Got Stripes” Rawlings and the gang breeze through “God Got A Woman”. I love the feel the organ and close harmonies generate. A rural environment very much comes to mind as Rawlings and the players reel off a bunch of inspired back porch and woods-like songs as in “Yup”; and the mountain folk tale of “Lindsey Button”, wrapped in soothing tones it sounds like a song found in an old attic. Marked by strong harmony vocals and spare interwoven instrumental work it has to be one of the most compelling cuts on the record. 


On throwing caution to the wind the ‘band’ kick up a dust storm on arguably the best song on the record “Come On Over My House” it is reminiscent of a good ol’ fashioned hoe-down favourite. The harmonies and fiddle (Haas) warmed my heart greatly. Closely followed in the popularity stakes you also have the urgent paced “Midnight Train” (nicely marked by typical Rawlings’ guitar work) and quirky little tune “Money Is The Meat In The Coconut”, and with it plied in banjo, fiddle and vocals (Rawlings, Watson, Welch) it hits the spot. While with Rawlings wanting to break down fences he powers through with “Cumberland Gap”. “Airplane” has a great deal of the music to it as you would expect from a Welch and Rawlings; and you can also say the same about “Put ‘Em Up Solid” as the instrumental side of things veers in that direction. The latter has Rawlings play harmonium and it is most effective.      


Recorded over a week at Nashville’s Woodland Sound Studios the record has a feel not unlike what you might expect from one of Levon Helm’s latter-day recordings, such the loose, roots feel. On utilising electric guitar Rawlings is found prising his own musical boundaries, and though still raw-boned “Guitar Man” turns over the ground impressively. Of the songs written by Rawlings (5tracks) and co-writes with Welch he explains in the liner work that they are traditional stories and songs were used as the basis for several songs in this collection. These are our versions, feel free to create your own.


                                                            Maurice Hope


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November 2017

JW Roy & The Royal Family
80 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
Chris Hillman
79 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Turnpike Troubadours
46 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton
36 pts.
Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records
Eilen Jewell
34 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
Lucinda Williams
31 pts.
This Sweet Old World
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
JD McPherson
29 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
Mark Martyre
26 pts.
Tom Russell
26 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
Anna Tivel
25 pts.
Small Believer
Fluff And Gravy Records
Margo Price
25 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
Fred Wickham
22 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
Joe Henry
22 pts.
Ear Music
Whitney Rose
22 pts.
Rule 62
Six Shooter/Thirty Tigers
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
Jim White
18 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
Peter Gallway
18 pts.
Feels Like Religion
Gallway Bay Music
Thomm Jutz
17 pts.
Crazy If You Let It
Mountain Fever Records
Kris Delmhorst
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The Wild
Blue Blade Records
Daniel Crabtree
15 pts.
In The Shadow Of His Wings
Jeremy Pinnell
15 pts.
Ties Of Blood And Affection
Sofaburn Records
Julien Baker
15 pts.
Turn Out The Lights
Amber Cross
14 pts.
Savage on the Downhill
Chris Blevins
14 pts.
Better than Alone
Horton Records
David Rawlings
14 pts.
Poor David's Almanack
Acony Records
Grainne Duffy
14 pts.
Where I Belong
Jeff Crosby
14 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records

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