Unquestionably, they are the finest songwriting duo in contemporary American roots music. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have been collaborating for decades, and their haunting blend of Americana stylings as represented on albums like "Revival" and "Time (the Revelator)" has endeared the duo to peers like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Joan Baez -- all of whom have covered Welch/Rawlings tunes.
At the heart of the Welch/Rawlings take on roots music is an emphasis on the haunting, high-lonesome strain of America's deepest folk and country music. Employing generally languid tempos, the duo explores the darker recesses of American life -- they are much more "Sunday morning come-down" than "Saturday night party time." Welch has said that she's more than content to let others handle the "happy, peppy" side of the songwriting coin, while she offers up "songs about orphans and morphine addicts." A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but we get the point -- commercial country music tends to gloss over life's complexities, and Welch and Rawlings are dedicated to giving us the unvarnished truth as they see it. The result is a body of songs that hits hard and lingers long.
Welch and Rawlings will make a rare area showing on Saturday, when they take over the Mainstage Theatre at UB's Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34, through ubcfa.org or Ticketmaster.com.
-- Jeff Miers