Rusty Young – Waitin’ For The Sun (2017)

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feature photo: Henry Diltz

When Poco co-founder and lone mainstay Rusty Young announced his retirement from touring in 2014, it didn’t mean that his music-making days were over. Happily, that’s been confirmed by the release earlier this year of his first solo album Waitin’ For The Sun. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist used his newly found spare time wisely, and the “Rose of Cimarron” composer delivers ten new songs that came together in his cabin in the Missouri Ozarks during the wee hours of the morning.

The fingerprints of the seminal country-rock band Poco are all over Waitin’ For The Sun, with contributions by present-day Poco members Michael Webb (keyboards), Rick Lonow (drums) and bassist Jack Sundrud (who co-produced this album with Young). For his pretty mid-tempo rural ballad “Heaven Tonight,” Young even brought in Poco original members Jim Messina and George Grantham for a taste of their signature harmonies.

It might be impossible to view Waitin’ For The Sun as not being part of the Poco’s oeuvre, and Rusty Young isn’t exactly running away from that categorization: “You can’t separate me from the sound of Poco,” he rightly asserts, “but I wanted to take the Poco sound — the songwriting, the vocals and the playing — to the next level. The goal of this album was to go one step beyond.”

The step beyond comes in the careful production that keeps the sound rooted in the spirit of the songs and not in the period in which it was recorded. It’s a step beyond in the complete freedom he has without gearing up for another exhaustive tour to show off the full range of his capabilities: he plays guitars, mandolin, dobro, and — in case you didn’t know — he’s an elite pedal steel and lap steel player. Moreover, in a completely natural way, there’s a theme that ties these fairly diverse set of songs together. It’s inspiration drawn from Young looking out the window of his cabin, with titles like “Seasons, “Innocent Moon,” “Gonna’ Let The Rain” and the titular track.

This titular track, “Waitin’ For The Sun,” nicely captures the bursting glow of daybreak, and that endearing high tenor vocal of his is joined by plush backup vocals on the catchy chorus. Messina (guitar) and Grantham (percussion) lend a hand again, for the homespun charm of “Honey Bee.” “Sara’s Song” is the same kind of bright balladry from Rusty Young that gave us Poco’s hit “Crazy Love.” Young’s sweet pedal steel practically caresses that song, as it does for “Heaven Tonight,” and while hints of country music can be found all over, Young dives headlong into the idiom for the two-step ditty “Down Home,” which features his mandolin and Tommy Rodgers’ fiddle.

There was no intent to let Waitin’ For The Sun to end with a thud; “Gonna Let The Rain” sounds as buoyant and anthemic as a lead-off tune, and more Poco alumni Richie Furay and Timothy B. Schmit supply the harmonies this time.

One of pioneers and key figures of country-rock has probably never truly gotten his due for his contributions, but with a little R ‘n’ R he was able to give a convincing testament to the importance his legacy with this strong affirmation. The best singer-songwriters make it seem so easy to craft and perform good songs but that doesn’t come without work, and Rusty Young has had about fifty years of a rich career to hone his craft. Waitin’ For The Sun (from Blue Élan Records) is just the kind of record that comes not from talent alone, but talent, experience…and being an early riser.



S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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