Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Dec 5, 2011
    90
    The Harrow & the Harvest is stunning for its intimacy, its lack of studio artifice, its warmth and its timeless, if hard won, songcraft.
  2. Jul 8, 2011
    90
    As a gathering-in of all that's best about their duality, The Harrow & The Harvest eschews the cosmic Plough and settles instead for the blessings of a more earthly crop.
  3. Jun 28, 2011
    80
    The Harrow and the Harvest is kin to not dissimilar works by Uncle Earl, Crooked Still, Kate Fagan, even Steve Earle's rumbustious bluegrass outing with Del McCoury--and blessed by the insuperable advantage of Welch's voice. [Jul 2011, p.74]
  4. Aug 8, 2011
    80
    As a whole, The Harrow and the Harvest maintains a singular mood and sense of atmosphere -- its terrain, musically and emotionally, is stark and bleak but beautiful. [Aug. 2011, p. 118]
  5. Nov 22, 2011
    100
    Sparely and intuitively performed, it's simply excellent. [Aug. 2011, p. 94]
  6. Jun 28, 2011
    70
    The themes are often bleak: "Some girls are blessed with a dark turn of mind," Welch sings at one point, probably with a wink. But there's a light that never goes out on The Harrow & the Harvest.
  7. Jun 28, 2011
    58
    Relaxed and steady-a little too much.
  8. Aug 4, 2011
    50
    With Welch's most forgettable set of melodies and tasteful but well-trod arrangements adding up to a generally disappointing return. [Jul 2011, p.92]
  9. Jun 24, 2011
    100
    So minimal and calm is much of The Harrow & The Harves that Six Horses comes as something of a shock. It displays the same studied but honest approach to American folk music that characterises the whole album but adds harmonica and, yes, handclaps!
  10. Jul 11, 2011
    80
    If the results are as finely crafted as The Harrow & The Harvest, she can take as long as she likes with the next one.
  11. Jun 27, 2011
    80
    Welch writes fine, timeless melodies, and her mostly gloomy lyrics are performed in suitably mournful, no-nonsense style.
  12. Jun 27, 2011
    90
    The Harrow & The Harvest is simply one of the richest, most expansive roots albums to be released in some time.
  13. Jul 14, 2011
    100
    The choruses are stronger, the harmonies, guitar and banjo lines as tasteful as ever, and the brittle edge that crept into 2003's Soul Journey is nowhere to be found.
  14. Jun 27, 2011
    70
    Even if it fails to meet impossibly high expectations, The Harrow & The Harvest offers a handful of keepers while moving Welch and Rawlings (hopefully) past their writers' block.
  15. Jun 27, 2011
    70
    If there's a case to be made for formulating something serious out of classic pop and old-time hokum, Welch and Rawlings make it as well as anybody. So while just a bit of drums and bass would probably have broadened the record's appeal, we must give thanks for this stubborn duo's independence of mind.
  16. Nov 10, 2011
    80
    Its overcast may be thick like a dustbowl, but well-placed rays of light make this record an especially accomplished return.
  17. Aug 16, 2011
    90
    A fully conceived album of beautifully crafted songs, and a real treat for fans and newcomers alike.
  18. Jun 28, 2011
    80
    Welch and Rawlings weren't in a hurry to make this album, and you hear their patience in its unhurried grace. As usual, the beauty lies in the fluid interplay between the duo.
  19. Jul 7, 2011
    67
    Gillian Welch returns after an eight-year drought with fifth LP The Harrow & the Harvest, an album sown with dry desperation.
  20. Jun 27, 2011
    70
    There is nothing that is new here at all, except ambient evidence of further slow refinement.
  21. Jun 28, 2011
    88
    Long trafficking in a sometimes spare yet intricately drawn sort of Americana that could fit just as comfortably at the turn of the 20th century, their latest delivers the same deceptively simple alchemy of dustily lilting voices, vivid lyrical twists and crisp acoustic flourishes.
  22. Aug 3, 2011
    90
    As always, the pair wrap their strings and larynxes 'round each other like the intimate companions they are, aided by production so warm and inviting it's like sitting in the room with them.
  23. 100
    On this, Gillian Welch's fifth album, the familiar blending of traditional sounds and moods with modern sensibilities is effortlessly sustained through songs like the mordant "The Way It Goes" ("Betsy Johnson bought the farm, stuck a needle in her arm, that's the way that it goes").
  24. It's a brilliant record; probably her best.
  25. 80
    It's a rich portrait, full of unexpected imagery and odd turns of phrase, which means that even though Welch has sung about drunks and prodigals so many times in the past, the songs on The Harrow & The Harvest sound both pleasingly familiar and starkly new, as if her unique vision of Americana contains an inexhaustible cast of eccentrics and an unending narrative from which she can harvest the most harrowing arcs.
  26. Jun 30, 2011
    91
    Rawlings' guitar work is an engaging mix of the decorative and functional, marvelously recorded and a perfect balance to the warmth of Welch's vocals.
  27. Jun 24, 2011
    100
    There cannot be another musical duet around at the moment who are able to make two acoustic guitars and two voices produce a sound that is so subtle and yet powerful.
  28. Jul 8, 2011
    75
    It's difficult to fault the songs or the performances, but the hand's off presentation is conservative to a fault, as if the duo were trying not to break the fine china.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Jul 10, 2012
    10
    Love her voice in this. What a voice. And her songs on this make me drift off to a place that seems not so far away that I want to stay forever. I would love to see her live. I would say this is one of the best I have heard of her releases to my ears. Very nice work. Full Review »
  2. Jun 3, 2012
    8
    This Album Is Dark And Spooky..
    Not What I Really 100% Wanted But It's Good..
  3. Feb 8, 2012
    8
    As folk/country music goes, this is good but her voice is not really my kind of thing. It's very typical of the genre. Having said that, the songs are very well written and the sparse instrumentation works well on a lot of tracks it's just overall I find country style vocals take away from the songs. Some of the songs on this are similar in style to Bruce Springsteens Devils and Dust which I quite liked. Perhaps a little variation would have done this record the world of good - maybe a little production. would have injected some more life into it. If rating out of 100 I'd give this 75 rather than 80 but rounding up will give it an 8. Full Review »