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A Friend of a Friend

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iTunes Review

As Gillian Welch’s longtime musical partner, Dave Rawlings has supplied sublime guitar and backing vocals on each of her four albums, and now it’s his turn to take center stage. In addition to Welch, Rawlings has produced, toured, and recorded with many skilled musicians over the past decade. Some of them appear on this recording (Welch on vocals and guitar on five cuts and members of Old Crow Medicine Show on several others) while some are here in spirit. The album includes versions of “To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High),” which he co-wrote with Ryan Adams, “I Hear Them All,” co-written with OCMS, and Conor Oberst’s “Method Acting,” the latter of which he fuses with Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” to create a dramatic 10-minute medley. Rawlings’ sincere, plaintive voice brings a quiet power to the album and it’s a treat to finally hear him sing lead. As he’s done so brilliantly with Welch, he's infused his music with the spirit of old-time country, bluegrass, and jug bands so completely that his meticulous compositions sound 100 years old.

Customer Reviews

A proper progression...

As someone who has followed the careers of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings for years with baited breath, this release is a moment of true musical excitement. After 6 1/2 years of recording silence, A Friend of a Friend picks up where Soul Journey left us, only this time Dave takes the wheel, vocally. It is a wonderful album and a nice "tip of the hat" to one of American musics real heroes, David Rawlings. As much as I love the hushed brilliance of the "Gillian Welch" side of their music, this album satisfies those moments where their musicality is compared to The Band and Gram Parsons. It is a full rendering of Americana. A nod to everyone who has ever thought that they would sould great in a full band setting...and they do. The real star is the name sake: Dave Rawlings. His spirit and, at times, tongue-in-cheek tenor really carry this album and make it worthwhile and necessary to listen to over and over again (I challenge anyone to get the haunting melody of "Bells of Harlem" out of their head). The album really steers itself by the song not by the gimmick of "the ole' switch-a-roo" or by guitar virtiosity (which I half-expected due to Rawlings street-cred as the king of modern Americana flat-picking). He leans on Gill, the rest of the band and, most importantly, the songs to carry him to the soft, stretched dawn of "Harlem" and to leave us, the listener, wanting more but grateful for what we have. More than anything, Its just so nice to hear them again.

Absolutely Real Music from Masters of the Craft

A breakout from the second seat, A Friend of a Friend shows that there are two complete sets of artists involved in this pairing. The Dave Rawlings Machine stretches out what we have come to love, with Gillian singing behind Dave, and the addition of friends like Ketch, Willie and Morgan from Old Crow, and the legendary Benmont Tench. There's a blending going on here that brings a tear to your eye.
From the haunting Ruby to Bells of Harlem you have hints of the familiar and the all new fun-loving side of this collection of wonderful musicians (and really, really nice folks!). This is enjoyable music from people who play really well and have fun doing it.

Good job, Dave and Machine. Can't get this out of my head or my player. Can't wait to see you all again soon.


I have always been transfixed by Rawlings guitar work in all of the live shows I have seen with him and Gillian Welch. This debut record is a real treat.


Formed: 2006 in Nashville, TN

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer David Rawlings is best known for his longtime collaboration with musical partner Gillian Welch, with whom he has written and recorded a number of critically acclaimed folk and neo-traditional albums. He has also produced and collaborated with artists like Old Crow Medicine Show, Ryan Adams, Robyn Hitchcock, and Conor Oberst, among others. In 2009, he launched his solo career, releasing his debut album, Friend of a Friend, under the name Dave Rawlings Machine....
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