Black Music Matters Festival

Gillian Welch

Soul Journey – 2003 (Acony)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

Bass and drums on a Gillian Welch album? It's true. The rural-sounding songstress, who makes most of her music with only the most spartan of instrumental settings, broadens her sound on this, her fourth album.Son Volt-er Jim Boquist contributes bass, Mark Ambrose offers up a little acoustic guitar, Ketcham Secor brings some fiddle and Greg Leisz adds Dobro to the mix on this disc, which hews close to Welch's signature sound: a little Appalachia along with attention to the no-nonsense elements of country music. Nevertheless, listeners get the usual fruits of Welch's labors with partner David Rawlings; this time, they also get a broader palette of sounds. Don't expect AC/DC, just another batch of fine tunes including the opener, "Look At Miss Ohio" or the tuneful sing-along, "Wayside/Back In Time."

Welch's traditional instincts get wrapped up in new packaging in what makes a nice step forward in her overall career.