Psst: Gillian Welch’s new The Harrow and the Harvest coming June 28
This is reprinted from my blog Modern Acoustic (http://www.modernacoustic.com)
You have to give Gillian Welch credit: Under the cover of darkness, she is set to release her new album, “The Harrow and the Harvest,” her first new work in eight years, on June 28.
While most bands offer up release dates sometimes six months in advance, the first mention of this album, by my account, was on May 6 in an NPR article about a listening party that included these two brief sentences: “For some, hearing the twang of Gillian Welch was a welcome relief to a long drought. Her upcoming release, “The Harrow and the Harvest,” will be her first in eight years.”
Two weeks have passed and there is still no official word. I finally emailed her publicist, who did confirm the date, but when I asked if he could supply a track list for the album, he replied: “Can’t yet. sorry! soon though.”
So why all the secrecy?
It could very well be the fact that Gillian despises how music is leaked (i.e. stolen) from artists. She, of course, sang about music piracy in her tune “Everything Is Free” on the album “Time (The Revelator)”: “Everything is free now/ That’s what they say/Everything I ever done/Gotta give it away.”
A while back, I had a friendly but animated email conversation with singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked after I posted short video clips I took of her in concert on YouTube. She called me a “bootlegger” and asked “Are you thinking this is a compliment to me?” We ended up agreeing to disagree whether those videos helped or hurt her as a musician. (I took the videos down, by the way.)
OK, I get it. Artists want to control their own destiny. But an album’s release date and the track listing? Why does that have to be secret?
A lot of musicians have actually learned to embrace this new “freer” industry (I do not endorse stealing music at all), and even find ways to use it to their advantage. Take the Decemberists: They offered one track off their latest album, “The King Is Dead” (which Gillian actually sang backup on many of the tracks), free to their fans. Doing this actually spawned more interest and more press for the album before it was even released. And it didn’t appear to bother record sales. The album is probably their best seller to date.
Now maybe Gillian 1) doesn’t have to worry about that, or 2) doesn’t care.
1) She has a strong following, one that has patiently waited eight years for a new album. I, for one, have begged and pleaded for something new from her for years (read my open letter to her, from 2007, HERE), listening to her previous albums and combing YouTube for performances of songs I haven’t heard yet.
2) Gillian is a perfectionist and is more interested in producing music as an artform than as commerical product. If this is true, good for her. I love the fact that she cares enough not to feel obligated or motivated to follow the industry sheep of releasing albums just to stay popular.
So fine, I’ll accept how she goes about her business, and I’ll wait patiently (still) for “The Harrow and the Harvest” to be released.
I’m guessing I will love the album and I’m sure it will be worth the wait.