Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Year by year: 2003

Gillian Welch – SOUL JOURNEY

If I start sleeping in the gutter, drunk at the age of 40, Soul Journey would be my album of choice. Not that it’s depressing and not that it’s uplifting – it’s both. But a bad streak is perfect for it. Lying off the beaten track, abandoned by all, somewhere in Nashville.  

An album heard at a special moment in life, under special circumstances, but while many albums like that (Bon Iver’s For Emma is one) are later revealed as weak and ‘what on Earth was I thinking’, Soul Journey has never let me down. Not once.

You can tell me about the transcendental alt. country beauty of “One More Dollar” all you want, but I never liked Gillian Welch when she was trying to be perfect. It just sounded smooth. Sterile. So in that sense Soul Journey was a true gift. It’s like she wasn’t trying too hard – and for some people, it works best. 

Jeff Tweedy has never done a song better than “He’s a Dick”. Likewise, “One Monkey” is the best thing Gillian Welch has ever done. But Soul Journey is so much more than that. And Christ it’s hard to stay away from a pathetic dive into this album’s title.