Poco’s Rusty Young inspires smiles with first solo album

Tahoe Onstage

Rusty Young’s croon is instantly recognizable on “Waitin’ For The Sun.”
Photo by Henry Diltz

Of course Rusty Young’s “Waitin’ For The Sun” shines with bright rays of Poco. After all, he founded the country-rock pioneering group with Richie Furay and Jim Messina, the three of them exiting the Buffalo Springfield when that Neil Young/Stephen Stills-led band hit a dead end in 1968.

Ultimately, Rusty Young (no relation to Neil) spent 45 of his now 72 years with Poco, right up until he shut it down in 2013. His solo debut suggests he could easily have retained the brand. The majority of these all-brand-new Young songs don’t skip a beat. Latter-day Poco bassist Jack Sundrud produced them richly, and holds down the bottom in the core quartet. Several other of Young’s former bandmates — Furay, Messina, George Grantham and longtime-Eagle Timothy B. Schmit — also make welcome appearances, as do folks like the Steeldrivers’ fiddler, Tammy Rodgers.

Rusty YoungMany of Poco’s biggest hits glistened by way of Young’s whisper-in-a-wind voice. Well, his croon is still instantly recognizable, and any occasional rough edges only add to its charm. Plus, he continues to play all sorts of stringed instruments beautifully. The album-opening title track may come off feeling weighty, but that only reflects the matter at hand, the pre-dawn, pre-coffee shuffling of a man waking to his lifelong enjoyment of writing songs. No matter what, Young always seems to beam with joy.

“My Old Friend” could be about anyone, but that he sings it with Furay and Schmit in absolutely glorious harmony, says something beyond the infectious, chugging Gaelic/bluegrass melody.

“Honey Bee” flits like vintage Poco, with Grantham on percussion and Messina picking at the guitar strings like the old-time master that he is. That rare crack in Young’s voice resounds with lasting effect in “Heaven Tonight,” a countrified pop/soul ballad that would have fit neatly on Poco’s late 1970s hit album, “Legend.” Rogers saws away blissfully on the hoedown, “Down Home,” and as well on the galloping rocker, “Hey There.” Again, that ingrained sound that Young practically owns, takes flight in both. The fantasy-like instrumental, “Seasons,” does make for a curious interlude. Otherwise, Rusty Young keeps the legend of Poco alive with warm, smartly written songs in performances that bring smile after smile of contentment.

-Tom Clarke

  • Rusty Young
    “Waitin’ For The Sun”
    Label: Blue Elan
    Release: Sept. 15, 2017

 

About Tom Clarke

From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 20 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, and the 45-year timelines and ever-growing family trees of The Allman Brothers Band and Los Lobos. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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