Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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David Rawlings is best known for his longtime partnership with Gillian Welch, and she makes several appearances on the first album released under Rawlings' own name. The music is mostly what you'd expect given the players (including members of Old Crow Medicine Show): lively, folksy and fun. Such tracks as "Ruby" and the jaunty "Sweet Tooth" are standard Rawlings/Welch fare, both beautiful and fun – some of their best in years. Unfortunately, the album feels a bit slapdash, and it falters under the weight of awkwardly translated covers: The mashup of Bright Eyes' "Method Acting" and Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" is a live gimmick that doesn't work on record. Closer "Bells of Harlem" evokes '70s-era Bob Dylan but is one of only a few great tracks on the album. A Friend of a Friend is vastly listenable but inoffensive; nice to throw on once in a while but lacking real legs of its own. (Acony Records) 3 out of 5 stars.

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