Artist: Rusty Young
Album: Waitin’ for the Sun
Label: Blue Elan Records
Release Date: 9/15/2017
Rusty Young’s roots stretch all the way back to Buffalo Springfield, but he’s best remembered for the steel guitar virtuosity he brought to Poco, another seminal American band. Poco literally “picked up the pieces” of Buffalo Springfield, when Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Young joined up with drummer George Grantham to help create the country-rock sound that dominated much of American music for the next decade. Many great musicians passed through Poco, but over the past few years it has been mostly Rusty and next-generation players under the Poco banner.
We’re glad to see Young decided to release this collection of new music under his own name. Poco was too much of a band for any single member to lay claim to the brand, and as much as Rusty’s steel guitar and distinctive vocals recall much of what made Poco special, Waitin’ for the Sun is an individual rather than collaborative effort. That’s not to say the album doesn’t lean a little on members of the extended Poco family. A warm tribute to the musical journey Young shared with his original bandmates, “My Friend” features supporting vocals from Richie Furay and Timothy B. Schmidt; Jim Messina and George Grantham help out on “Honey Bee.”
Young lives the country lifestyle his music celebrates. He wrote most of the album’s 10 songs looking out on the Mark Twain National Forest from his cabin in southern Missouri. The title track quite literally refers to waking up each morning inspired by the natural beauty around him. “Innocent Moon” is the flip side, an end-of-day ode to an uncluttered life: “a day or two with nothing spent but time.”
The core musicians include Rusty’s bandmates from his final iteration of Poco: bassist Jack Sundrud, keyboardist Michael Webb and drummer Rick Lonow. The album was recorded at Cash Cabin, the former home recording studio of Johnny and June Carter Cash in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In addition to playing steel and acoustic guitars, dobro, mandolin and banjo, Rusty was excited to lay down tracks with Johnny Cash’s ’57 Les Paul Gibson.
The most rocking tune on the album is “Hey There,” with high-energy strumming and picking reminiscent of Poco at its finest. The aptly titled “Down Home” veers closest to pure country, while “Sarah’s Song” is a lovely ballad about his daughter’s wedding day: “Had my mind made up, wasn’t gonna cry.”
Rusty Young was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2013. Later that year, he announced plans to retire after a few farewell shows. Fortunately, he was able to find renewed inspiration to add another chapter to his story. He’s currently back on a national tour in support of Waitin’ for the Sun in New York, Chicago, Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri, doing what lucky “retirees” do: what he loves and what he does best.