Simple forms carry weight

Gillian Welch masters the beguiling simplicity of a gospel hymn.  Nothing in the song sticks out as robust or complex.  None of the words have more than two syllables.  The words touch on the most powerful themes of Christian faith: the crucifixion of Jesus, the cross as the key to the identity of the Savior, the foolishness of earthly wealth, redemption as an event in history.  The singing is easy to listen to, but Welch and Rawlings have carefully worked out their harmonies and timing to give remarkable depth of sound to their singing.  They start by singing the words of the first verse together, then begin carefully varied repetition in the chorus.  The variety keeps us interested without drawing attention to itself.  They manage to pull a huge amount of sound out of two guitars, without ever beginning to sound ornate or fussy.  Right after the two minute point Mark Rawlings lays into a solo that is quick and full of notes, but his technique allows him to pull each note out of the guitar as a single unique sound.  The sound never blurs or smears.  They have put a huge amount of information of various kinds into 3 minutes of old-fashioned simple music.

P.S. The name of the band is NOT simply.  Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch make up a duo called Gilliam Welch.  It's confusing, but who cares.  The music is great.