By now, most Gillian Welch fans will be aware of the generous dumps of unreleased material that have been under way since August. Having recorded dozens of songs one weekend in 2002 to fulfil a publishing contract, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Welch and her partner, David Rawlings, sat on the tapes for years.
In March of this year, when a hurricane tore a hole in the roof of their studio and the pair scrambled to rescue their life’s work, they realised they felt strongly about the songs after all. After Volumes 1 and 2, here are 17 more fine originals and covers rooted in country-folk and old-time religion, rendered acoustically as a duo (that’s Rawlings on the album’s cover).
Two tracks – One Little Song and Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor – made it on to 2003’s Soul Journey with gussied-up arrangements. The remainder are excellent though, prompting the question of how the duo could have dismissed songs as assured as these. Standouts include a hard-hitting Peace in the Valley, conveying anger and fellow-feeling through the intertwining of the pair’s guitars, and the almost danceable Changing Ground, on which Welch’s measured voice quavers just a little: seismic abandon, for this master of quality control.