The Way It Goes
When a creative drought followed 2003's brilliantly tossed off Soul Journey, Gillian Welch spent eight years returning to the fundamental strengths on which she built a career: imagistic, carefully detailed songwriting rooted in deceptively plain-spoken Americana. The result is loaded with heavy-hearted ballads that wrestle with self-doubt and fatalistic inclinations. (It's written all over the titles: "The Way It Will Be," "The Way It Goes," "The Way the Whole Thing Ends."). Every note and lyric seem placed with great intention; the resulting record is one of her best.