For a while, it looked as if Gillian Welch would be another unduly obscure big-label casualty, making two outstanding but mostly overlooked albums (Revival and Hell Among The Yearlings) before drifting into relative obscurity. But when she showed up as a prominent player on the remarkable, timeless soundtrack to the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Welch's career was reborn, without the burden of having to live up to corporate sales expectations. Now both independent and popular, Welch proves her creative consistency on Time (The Revelator), a winsome, beautiful collection of songs written and played with longtime collaborator David Rawlings. Confined primarily to voice-and-guitar arrangements, Time's songs are deceptively simple and direct, yet catchy enough to periodically qualify as pop. Equally adept at crafting sweet ballads ("Dear Someone"), maintaining the momentum of a 15-minute epic ("I Dream A Highway"), playing to an appreciative crowd ("I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll," Time's centerpiece and sole live track), and assembling a two-part rumination on the Lincoln assassination ("April The 14th Part 1," "Ruination Day Part 2"), Welch has never seemed more assured, building a creatively expansive work out of modest ingredients. A marvelous companion piece to its essential predecessors and the O Brother soundtrackon which she, Emmylou Harris, and Alison Krauss give voice to the film's sirensTime (The Revelator) should only perpetuate Welch's sudden, gratifying ascent.