Released in 1996, Revival is Gillian Welch’s graceful and self-assured debut. Her devotion to bluegrass and old-time American music is evident across the album and she pays homage to the form not through studied mimicry but by adding her own work to the tradition. One could easily mistake “Orphan Girl,” “Barroom Girls,” and “By the Mark” for traditional Appalachian tunes, which is a compliment to her vivid lyrics, storytelling skill, and the depth of these vocal performances. Her clear, haunting voice conveys a range of emotions, from tender and fragile on “Orphan Girl,” “Only One and Only,” and “Paper Wings,” to tough and defiant on “Pass You By” and “Tear My Stillhouse Down.” Joined by her songwriting partner David Rawlings, a highly skilled guitarist who adds intricate and evocative melody lines throughout along with excellent vocal harmonies, most of the songs feature spare arrangements and just two acoustic guitars. Some well-placed electric guitar (courtesy of the legendary James Burton), bass, and drums are used to powerful effect on a few tracks as well. Unhurried and timeless, Revival is a powerful statement beautifully presented.