The Harrow, the Harvest and the hit - Gillian Welch celebrates her first top 30 album with November 2011 UK tour

Posted: 31st August 2011

Some 15 years ago, a young country singer and her musical stooge moved to Nashville, in the possibly naive belief that they could rub shoulders with their heroes and other preceding greats. And what's wrong with having a dream? Acclaimed producer T-Bone Burnett certainly didn't stand in their way - he happily left Gillian Welch and David Rawlings to hone their craft with a warmly-received debut-album, "Revival", issued in 1996. It lost out to a Grammy by a whisker - Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad".

After another album, "Hell Among the Yearlings", in 1998, Welch got a break of sorts by singing two songs for the Burnett-produced soundtrack, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", a hugely-popular Coen Brothers film about chain-gang escapees starring George Clooney and John Goodman. After a further brace of albums, 2011 bore the duo's first creative fruits for 8 years in the shape of "The Harrow & The Harvest", issued in June.

Incredibly for such acclaimed writers, Welch has claimed the delay was partially down to writer's block - not bad for an album that's gathered 5-star reviews quicker than a static stone gathers moss. It's also bothered the album charts in a far bigger way than its predecessor, "Soul Journey", by clawing its way to #25. How's that for little marketing and a big reputation, huh X-Factor?

Welch and Rawlings will be playing some shows in the UK and Ireland this autumn, starting with Brighton on 11th December, followed by Warwick, Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester and Hammersmith. Tickets are on sale Friday from 9am, priced from around £25. The venues are large and they need to be - there's a good chance these will sell out.

Paul Pledger