Album: Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest (Warner Bros)

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The Independent Culture

On this, Gillian Welch's fifth album, the familiar blending of traditional sounds and moods with modern sensibilities is effortlessly sustained through songs like the mordant "The Way It Goes" ("Betsy Johnson bought the farm, stuck a needle in her arm, that's the way that it goes").

That three of the 10 songs' titles begin "The Way" indicates the fatalistic mood pervading the album, but Welch's gift for heartbreaking melodies brings a haunting beauty to the resignation of "The Way It Will Be", while her blissfully enervated croon conveys the comforting depth of melancholia in "Dark Turn of Mind". Elsewhere, banjo, knee-slapping and mountain harmonies lend a persuasive antiquity to "Six White Horses", and "Hard Times" offers a heartfelt paean to fading rural traditions.

DOWNLOAD THIS: The Way It Will Be; Dark Turn Of Mind; The Way It Goes; The Way The Whole Thing Ends; Scarlet Town