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Gillian Welch, Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg

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Judith Lynch

It's been 20 years since we were first introduced to Nashville's Gillian Welch by way of her excellent debut album, Revival.

The anniversary reissue, Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg, features 21 outtakes, alternate versions and demos from the making of Revival, including eight previously unheard songs. Culled from an extensive collection of archived audio from the original Revival recording sessions, this collection highlights the often unheralded part of songcraft — repetition — that can sometimes be a crucial part of getting it right.

Both discs of this two-CD set open with an alternate version of one of Welch's best-known compositions, and my first introduction to her music, "Orphan Girl." From the album notes we learn that this song was the most elusive one from the Revival sessions and several attempts at recording it were made. Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg offers up two of those attempts, and the differences between them and the original Revival version are subtle, but present and illuminating. The original home demo found on Disc 2 sounds closer to the final version, while the alternate version that kicks off Disc 1 has a curiously distracted vocal, as attention is paid to experimenting with a particular trio arrangement of the music.

Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg also offers up rarities such as the first and only take of "Georgia Road," a song that also has only been performed live once. Other gems include a demo of "Dry Town," a song written days after Welch and her partner/producer David Rawlings opened for the late Johnny Cash.

Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg will be available in stores on Nov. 25 on Acony Records. You can pre-order the album here.

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