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Gillian Welch at Tipitina's 

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Born in Manhattan and raised in Los Angeles, 43-year-old singer/songwriter Gillian Welch has devoted the bulk of her adult life to folding that map in half, finding her inspiration in the creases in between: crystalline Blue Ridge bluegrass circles and down-home country/western hoedowns, Depression-era siren songs and beyond-the-grave Southern Gothic blues. On five studio albums over 15 years — and 2000's O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, on which Welch sings two central tracks and has a production credit — she's mastered a fine art: forging artifice-less artifacts, playing tricks with time, telling bleak fortunes from a deja vu tarot deck and letting her rangy, low-slung contralto move in like a rain cloud, reflected in shadowy countermelody and acoustic guitar and banjo accompaniment by David Rawlings, her longtime compositional sidekick. The Harrow & the Harvest (Acony), their first outing since 2003's easygoing — and amplified — Soul Journey, follows an eight-year creative drought with a (relatively) rocking single, "The Way It Goes." A more accurate measure of the album's pulse comes from two companion pieces: "The Way It Will Be," the cold morning after Time (The Revelator) mirage "I Dream a Highway"; and true-blues closer "The Way the Whole Thing Ends," where she sounds resigned to walk away from the finish line, unrequited ("Now here you come alone and crying/ Once you know you were my friend/ That's the way the cornbread crumbles/ That's the way the whole thing ends"). Tickets $26 in advance, $31 at the door. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

Aug. 11

Gillian Welch

9 p.m. Thursday

Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-8477; www.tipitinas.com

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