The  Harrow and the Harvest Image

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

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  • Summary: Eight years after her last release, the country-folk singer releases new material.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Nov 22, 2011
    Sparely and intuitively performed, it's simply excellent. [Aug. 2011, p. 94]
  2. Jun 24, 2011
    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.
  3. Dec 5, 2011
    The Harrow & the Harvest is stunning for its intimacy, its lack of studio artifice, its warmth and its timeless, if hard won, songcraft.
  4. Jun 28, 2011
    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.
  5. Jul 11, 2011
    If the results are as finely crafted as The Harrow & The Harvest, she can take as long as she likes with the next one.
  6. Jul 8, 2011
    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.
  7. Aug 4, 2011
    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]

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Jul 10, 2012
    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. Expand
  2. Jun 28, 2011
    A magnificent return to form for Welch and Rawlings. Those who criticize this album its minimalism and simplicity just don't get it. Welch and Rawlings have tapped into a rich vein of pastoral Americana roots that is almost NECESSARILY minimalist. 'The Harrow & The Harvest' is a brilliant amalgamation of beautifully fragile melodies, astutely sparse acoustic instrumentation and some of the best harmonies around. Collapse
  3. Sep 15, 2011
    All I can say about this album is that "Dark Turn of Mind" may be the finest country song released in the past 30 years. And it would never get played on "country" radio. Their loss! And the other songs on this album almost keep up. Which is to say they are great. Expand
  4. Jun 29, 2011
    Surprisingly and perhaps consciously free of the hooks and harmonies of Welch's most contagious early work, The Harrow and the Harvest takes three or four listens before the album begins to unfold and reveal its treasures. The Harrow and the Harvest harkens back to Welch's brilliant Time (the Revelator) and eclipses Soul Journey's missteps and uneven quality. What we get in the new album is almost completely bereft of ornament. We hear Welch's distinctive voice, a guitar, the twang or two from a banjo, an occasional harmonica riff, a simple handclap, and that's pretty much it. In her particular brand of minimalist music, there's not much to stand between the listener and the songs, and any mistake in vocals, writing, authenticity of emotion, or David Rawlings' skillful and haunting guitar work would be instantly obvious. To my ears, this is a nearly flawless album in that regard, and its strength emerges through its sometimes challenging subtlety--a subtlety that would no doubt prove too slippery for the casual radio listener. The most heartbreaking and catchy songs (with Welch, the two seem always to go hand-in-hand) are "The Way It Will Be" and "Hard Times"--rich pieces, though perhaps not quite surpassing the earlier "Time (the Revelator)," "Elvis Preseley Blues," "Orphan Girl," or "Wrecking Ball." "The Way It Will Be" and "Hard Times" seem to reflect upon the difficulties of creating art and the acknowledgement of one's creative and personal limits, all packaged in Welch's trademark semi-surreal, fragmentary, dreamy, rural narratives. The lines "the way you made it, / that's the way it will be" and "hard times, they're gonna rule my mind / no more" clarify the themes that run throughout the entire album. Welch suggests that what one makes of one's life--whether it is art, a family, a farm, or perhaps even one's own character--is no better than what it actually is. This seems like a rather obvious point to make until one acknowledges that most people delude themselves by thinking their lives add up to, or will one day add up to, more than what they are. If we are unfortunate enough to stumble upon this realization, unfortunate enough to have our delusions of self shattered--and Welch intends for the listener to think such realizations are unfortunate and depressing--the epiphany can be both humbling and harrowing, especially as one begins to confront mortality. "The way you made it, that's the way it will be. . ." Still, there is some ambiguous hope in the face of this stark, basic realization: once we understand the reality of our situation, the need to see ourselves as we truly are (in Welch, an apparent source of despair) need not fully preoccupy us. Instead, the best solution is to metaphorically get behind the mule (Welch's metaphor perhaps echoing Tom Waits' metaphor in his song "Mule Variations") and continue to work as best we can, for that's the only alternative we really seem to have. Thus, in terms of depth and risk, in terms of vision and subtlety and artistry, The Harrow and the Harvest surpasses Welch's previous albums, despite the fact it does not possess the sheer quantity of sing-along, infectious hooks of her early work, and helps flesh out her self-portrait as a distinctive and essential musician for veteran listeners and newcomers alike. Expand
  5. Jul 6, 2011
    There was something supernatural at work when Welch & Rawlings wrote Time (The Revelator). For me, it's a perfect album that I couldn't see being topped elsewhere in their career. But then, upon Soul Journey's release, I realized they had no intention or desire to do so and I felt free to enjoy what is actually a really great collection of songs (with a terrible turquoise blue cover, but I digress). And it's much the same with this fantastic, long-overdue follow up. If the pair felt pressure making a long awaited new record it doesn't show one lick in any spot on The Harrow & The Harvest. The songs are strong from every angle. Go ahead and kick the tires, take the lyrics or melodies out for a spin. It's built to last. "That's The Way It Will Be" is an instant classic. Expand
  6. Feb 8, 2012
    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. Expand
  7. Jun 3, 2012
    This Album Is Dark And Spooky..
    Not What I Really 100% Wanted But It's Good..

See all 8 User Reviews