“Poor David’s Almanack”
BOTTOM LINE Stepping into the Americana spotlight with his own style.
David Rawlings has long been one of Americana’s most valuable sidemen, working with Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams and, of course, Gillian Welch, whom he has collaborated with on eight albums.
On his new album, “Poor David’s Almanack” (Acony), Welch is also on hand, singing plenty of harmonies and an occasional lead vocal, but this is clearly a Rawlings affair.
His work is more lighthearted and experimental when it is done under his name. Only Rawlings would use a deadpan voice to tell the hilarious tale of the devil taking away a man’s wife only to return her because she gave him such a hard time that she scared all the devils in hell, as he does in “Yup.” His winding logic in “Money Is the Meat in the Coconut” is made all the more distinctive by using percussion that sounds like he’s slapping coconut halves on a table. And he somehow makes his twist on the traditional folk song “Cumberland Gap” sound like it came from Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.”
All that inventiveness makes “Poor David’s Almanack” a collection of folkie fun that will help music fans remember Rawlings’ name.