Are David and Samantha Cameron Gillian Welch's biggest fans?

The cult American folk singer is best known for her dark, gloomy songs. So can she really be a favourite of the prime minister and his wife?

Age: 45

Appearance: Unlike a rock star.

So rather like me in that respect? Yes, in a way. Except she holds a guitar.

I sometimes hold a guitar. Well, Welch holds one more often. And frequently a microphone as well.

Is she one of these "singer-songwriters" one hears about? Crumbs. If your finger was any more firmly on the pulse you'd be stopping the blood supply! Also, yes she is.

Can you briefly describe her music? The Guardian's own pop critic called it "bluegrass-noir".

Darkbluegrass then? I suppose.

Now can you describe it in a way I'll understand? Basically, she sings about poor, unhappy people in the American countryside while playing an acoustic guitar in an unusual way, as does her music partner David Rawlings. They performed part of the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and they're two of the coolest and most admired musicians around.

I get it. And her biggest fans are David and Samantha Cameron.

I don't get it. Welch's manager is Peter Mensch, whose wife is Louise Mensch, who took the Camerons to a gig in 2011.

I get it again. So this is classic political bandwagon-jumping? Like claiming to like the Arctic Monkeys. Apparently not. Peter Mensch recently told guests at a Tory function that Welch has more or less been the soundtrack to the majority of the prime minister's marriage.

Oh. "There was a record store in Notting Hill where David and I used to live," Samantha Cameron reportedly told Mensch. "I would say to the guy with the purple mohawk: 'What should I be listening to?' He sold me Time (The Revelator). For the past 10 years, David and I listened to it all the time."

But how could the Camerons possibly find kinship with a universally admired folk musician? She's not quite universally admired, you know. Some people criticise Welch for singing about being poor in Tennessee when, in fact, she grew up comfortable in Los Angeles.

Bingo. I hadn't thought of that.

Do say: "It's pronounced 'Gillian', with a hard G."

Don't say: "I prefer redgrass."

The GuardianTramp

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