Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Welch sings with her entire face — when a song bends toward joy, she almost can’t help smiling, and when a song bends toward sorrow, she looks contemplative, sometimes heartbroken, sometimes resigned to whatever the song’s fate may be. But her voice is consistent and clear, always. It resonates in the heart first: She sings as though she’s either mourning or preparing to mourn. Rawlings is the more animated of the two — he’s tall and athletic and energized. When he plays his guitar, his entire upper body twists and turns in small but ferocious movements. Their combined voices operate beyond simple sonic harmony. There are emotional inquiries at play. If Welch’s voice delivers the good news or the hard news of the world, Rawlings’s voice comes underneath, asking how much deeper the sadness can go or what fresh heights the ecstatic can climb to.