Dave Rawlings Machine – ‘Nashville Obsolete’

Photo by Henry Diltz

Earlier this week, Robyn Hitchcock handed Gillian Welch and David Rawlings the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Music Association’s Honors & Awards night – a pretty amazing accomplishment given that the duo, who have been my two favorite modern day musicians for a long time, released their first album less than 20 years ago.

And today Rawlings & Welch release Nashville Obsolete (Amazon & Spotify) – their seventh studio album of work together and second under the banner of Dave Rawlings Machine. A seven-song follow up to the Machine’s 2009 critically acclaimed first record, A Friend of A Friend, the album follows the difficult to replicate old time style that defines every Welch & Rawlings project. Led by the duo’s well-blended vocals and phenomenal instrumentation, this time around the Machine features the strong backing band of Willie Watson on banjo and Paul Kowert on bass, with a few appearances by fiddler Brittany Haas and guitar virtuoso Jordan Tice on mandolin.

The record opens with “The Weekend” and closes with “Pilgrim” – my two favorite tracks. Another favorite is “The Trip,” which at nearly 10 minutes in length, is like a timeless dustbowl cowboy song.

And while most of the material from Rawlings and Welch is dark or sad (and Welch says that she doesn’t start writing until she’s miserable), Nashville Obsolete does include a playful little diddy called “Candy” that features Haas on fiddle. The song, which is in the same silly vein of Rawlings’ “Sweet Tooth” and Welch’s “Six White Horses,” is one that I can’t listen to without thinking of hipster Brooklyn parents teaching their kids to sing it on a road trip, or adding to their “Bearable/Kid-friendly” playlist. That thought kind of annoys me, but I still love the song and this album. Taste it below and buy it here.

Dave Rawlings Machine performs at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater on Saturday followed by a  lengthy tour through the rest of this year and into next, including a stop at New York’s Beacon Theater on November 11th.