The NBT Review 94

Dave Rawlings MachineA Friend Of A Friend (Independent Release)

Another review from Cobus Rossouw creator of 88 Kilos of Sunshine

To the knowledgeable reviewer, Dave Rawlings’ Friend of a Friend is filled with allusion and tribute. There are nods to almost every aspect of Americana, from country rock through Nashville and into the Appalachians. It’s a treasure trove of covers and homage.

But I have to admit that my knowledge does not stretch far enough to pick up the more obscure references and perhaps this could have distracted from enjoyment of the album but this album is just wonderful.

Even for the unenlightened it has diversity, depth, emotion and mastery. Rawlings’ background and years of support play has made him a master, not only of his instrument but also of the idiom. He never shows off this expertise, but it is there, in the clarity of each note, in the spaces between and in the pathos of the vocals.

From the opening number, “Ruby”, we are clearly in the folk/country corridors of the US, and this style is held throughout, with perfectly arranged vocal and instrumental accompaniment that compliments each song in turn. This is an album where not a single note is unnecessary or out of place. This is an album that is easy to listen to superficially and rewarding to listen to in-depth. There are moments that’ll have your feet tapping and there are moments for red wine. Beyond anything else this is an album that recalls those front porch moments, a couple of friends, some old tunes and everybody so in tune and comfortable with each other that the group switches in mood, from Hank Williams to Guthrie to Dylan and back…

It doesn’t matter where I stop this album, that’s the song I’ll be humming for the rest of the day, but the one number, personally, that simply has me coming back for more is the weld of Bright Eyes and Neil Young on “Method Acting/Cortez the Killer, a 10 minute and 20 second ode that manages to seem about 2 hours too short. I could listen to this the whole day.

It makes you whistle and then it makes you think. What more could I ask for.

Hear a track from this album on next week’s NBT Podcast

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