Gillian Welch – Acony Moments (Stoned Turtle STCD 010)

Acony Moments (Stoned Turtle STCD 010)

Moments, Bremen, Germany –  January 31st, 1999

(78:31):  Orphan Girl, Winter’s Come And Gone, Rock Of Ages, Barroom Girls, Wichita, Annabelle, My Morphine, Red Clay Halo, One Morning, I’m Not Afraid To Die, Tear My Stillhouse Down, Snowin’ On Raton, By The Mark, Acony Bell, Caleb Meyer, applause / talk, Dusty Boxcar Wall, Long Black Veil.  Bonus track:  Katie Dear (recorded with The Chieftains at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN, in 2002)

During the course of her career Gillian Welch has taken an established musical form bluegrass and expand it into something unique and still relevant.  Although she’s had her critics, she’s been praised generally for her authenticity in composition and performance.  

In 1998 Welch released her sophomore effort Hell Among The Yearlings and toured Europe for the first time with her partner David Rawlings in 1999.  Acony Moments uses an amazingly clear audience recording of the January 31st performance in Moments in Bremen, Germany.  It is so good that it could be a professional recording.  

The set begins with “Orphan Girl,” the opening number off her her debut album Revival and continues with “Winter’s Come And Gone,” the closing track off of the new album.  

Throughout the show Welch and Rawlings keep things light.   “I think we’re gonna play the one and only happy song on our new record.  We want to get it out of the way right off the top” Gillian jokes before “Winter’s Come And Gone.”  And before “Rock Of Ages” they pull out the banjos on “the off chance that things are getting too slick and professional” they joke.  

Welch comments that “Wichita” “sped up the top of the bluegrass charts which alerted us to the existence of the bluegrass charts.” 

One of the more daring tracks is “Snowing On Raton,” a cover of the Townes Van Zandt tune.  It is a challenging tune which the two handle with depth and profundity.  The set ends with a cover of the traditional tune “Long Black Veil,” the first song Welch and Rawlings recorded together in Nashville in the early nineties.  

Stoned Turtle include a bonus track, a cover of the traditional tune “Katie Dear,” recorded with The Chieftains in 2002 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Acony Moments is a tremendously interesting and exciting release.  It’s worth investigating even for those who don’t know much about Gillian Welch.  The music is in line with Alison Krauss, Amos Lee and even Bob Dylan.   

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