During one of my previous themed weeks, I wrote about how collaborations are a great way to discover new artists. This is all well and good, but I can be pretty dense sometimes, and Gillian Welch is a shining example. I had so many chances to jump on her bandwagon. My first opportunity came with the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a movie I watched maybe 1,253 times. Not only was she associate producer for the sensational Grammy-winning soundtrack, singing on two of the songs, SHE ACTUALLY APPEARED IN THE MOVIE. Sigh. Another chance passed me by when she recently contributed backing vocals to seven of the ten songs on the Decemberists’ The King is Dead. Somewhere in between she played drums on Old Crow Medicine Show’s debut record, recorded with Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, I mean c’mon, how oblivious am I? In truth, the fact that these projects didn’t make me run out and buy Gillian Welch albums illustrates her gift as a collaborator. In each case, her talents enhanced songs without overpowering them, even though she’s talented enough to outshine many of these artists. I’m finally learning this because my friend Giselle recommended that I give Welch’s new offering, The Harrow and the Harvest, a shot. After several listens, I’ve found that it’s a truly engaging folk album, full of tender moments and bittersweet beauty. My favorite so far is “Hard Times” — a song that is so bitter and sweet at the same time, you almost think the conflicting emotions are going to tear the song apart. Take a listen below, buy The Harrow and the Harvest here, and learn from my obliviousness, so you don’t have to spend one more day without Gillian Welch in your life.