Tom Rush is a walking encyclopedia of American Song…. at [the age of] 77 he’s found his own muse, and it’s really beautiful. I mean the album is just a joyful warm expression of life, it just feels lived in and it feels like something you can live with –– and his voice is still beautiful…. this wonderful album Voices has the feeling of a gift.
[A] true elder statesman of folk and singer songwriter stuff, it’s a fact he never will just crank them out. However when he does venture into a studio, he certainly has something to say, that is always very musical and flat-out feels real good. Voices upholds the “I’m-in-no-rush tradition.”
Voicesis Tom Rush in splendid form. If you know Rush’s music … I don’t have to tell you they are wondrous creations. They stand up under as many listenings as you care to subject them over years and decades…. If you don’t know the guy, Voices is as good as any place to get acquainted. Afterwards, you don’t have to thank me. Just treat yourself to more from his admirable body of work, and then rejoice that the man is still among us.
The CD’s closing title track [‘Voices’] invokes the eternal music of life, the songbook of sounds that surround us, felt if not often heard, and “the songs that sing the truest are in the key of love,” a life lesson cherished and passed along.
This is a great record, brimming with wonderful melodies, lyrics, and performances. It’s stripped down and mostly easygoing, with simple string arrangements, a touch of piano, and a rhythm section. At the age of 77, Rush, through his characters, comes across as relaxed, content, and comfortable with how things have turned out in his long career.
Voices is the first album ever of all-Rush originals, ten relaxed, warmhearted, amused and sometimes thoughtful songs that perfectly reflect Tom’s wry persona…. As on Rush’s previous studio album, 2009’s What I Know (Appleseed), his first studio release in 35 tour-filled years, his smiling, understated delivery, and exemplary skills as an acoustic guitarist are sympathetically framed by a crew of Nashville-based studio musicians helmed by musician-turned-Grammy-Award-winning producer Jim Rooney…
Like a comfortable pair of overalls or a warm blanket on a chilly night, Tom’s music may be comforting but that doesn’t mean that he plays it safe. On Voices – the first album in his career consisting almost entirely of originals – Tom Rush presents an album that embraces the spirit of his early recordings with the maturity that time has graced him with…. More than five decades on, Tom Rush is still creating music that springs from his heart and sings to the hearts of others.
The best news is that he’s composing not only frequently but well indeed. Rush told me in an email that he considers Voices “my best work (so far),” and I’m inclined to agree. There are wise and touching love songs (“Far Away,” “Life Is Fine”) and poetic meditations (the title cut)…. Throughout, Rush is backed by a fine combo, and his vocals are just as rich and compelling as they were on the best of his earlier albums.
I have found that to-do lists are a waste of time. Worse! They make you feel guilty about all the things you didn’t get done that you might have accomplished if only you were a better person. Then there’s the conundrum regarding whether you should put the most important things at the top of the list, or the most urgent even if they’re not all that important. And that gets you into the tangle of agonizing over whether buying the ice cream is actually important, or if it just seems that way. But, ah! Perhaps the most onerous chores should go first, on the theory that once they’re out of the way the rest will seem easy by comparison. (A best-selling book has been written espousing that theory.)
No! It’s all bull-poopy (excuse my language)! My new, improved system is to do whatever I feel like, then put it on a list and check it off. It gives me that glowing sense of accomplishment without wasting half the day agonizing over the illusion that any of it is actually significant in the overall scheme of things.
I will now take this brilliant insight, fluff it up to a 180 page self-help book with illustrations and charts, add a few Zen overtones and make a fortune. Kind of like the “Eat-Whatever-You-Want Diet ”. (I don’t know if that exists, but if not, it will be my sequel.)
The new Voices LP is here!! (It trailed the CD by a couple of months because all the pressing plants on the planet are backed up—an investment opportunity, perhaps!) Don’t have a turntable? Not to worry—it comes with a download-card so you can listen to the music while holding the cover, fondly remembering the time when you did have a turntable, back in college. (I lured Appleseed Recordings out on this limb, and it’s a very limited edition—500 copies and almost 200 of them are gone already to the folks who supported this project on PledgeMusic. Supplies really are limited.
Saturday, May 5th, the Ohio Folk Festival, Highbanks Metro Park in Lewis Center, OH (about half an hour north of Columbus). I’ll also be doing a workshop that afternoon at 3:00 PM, titled “The Creative Process”, wherein I will reveal the extent of my ignorance.
Sunday, May 5th, the Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy, Oh. This is an outfit run by Jorma Kaukonen. I was going to tell you to get tickets soon because this usually sells out, but I just went online an saw that it’s already sold out. Sorry!
Enjoy the spring!
Quote of the Month:
“It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.”
Universally attributed to Mark Twain, though no evidence can be found that he actually wrote or said it, proving the point.
Every time something horrific happens in this nation, our legislators leap into action, offering thoughts and prayers for the families of the victims. Oh, and moments of silence. Which is terrific, but arguably ineffective, since they keep having to do it over and over.
I try very hard not to get political, on the notion that I’m trying to provide an oasis for folks from whatever problems they’re facing in their lives, a bit of respite from the tribulations. But there comes a point when you just have to speak up.
WPSU Radio out of Pennsylvania State University has released the recording of a concert performed by Tom on May 15, 2015, at Pennsylvania State Theater.
Mel Deyoung of WPSU writes:
It’s no stretch to call the 76 year old Rush a folk legend, as he maintains a busy performance schedule that continues to bring audiences the warmth and energy for which he is well known. And of course, his incredible songs!
Given all the depressing, appalling, frightening, disgusting (I could go on) things that are happening in our world today, I have decided to take refuge in gratitude. Despite all the Bad, every day we are all surrounded by things, people, moments that are wonderful, beautiful, transcendent—and I don’t want to lose sight of them because I’m focused on the nasty stuff. Read the full story . . .
It’s been a while! Life has been way too busy lately — I thought things were supposed to slow down at this stage of life.
The new album, to be called “Voices,” is nearing completion and should be released early in 2018 (though PledgeMusic supporters will be getting their copies around Christmas). The recording was done in Nashville with Jim Rooney as producer and “Rooney’s Irregulars” as the session players — I couldn’t be happier with the results. Here’s a sample: Elder Green.
The original completion date was in early October, but some of life’s curveballs slowed me down, as they seem to do with alarming regularity. The artwork, and then manufacturing, are the remaining hurdles and we’re knocking them over one at a time.
I’m flying home to Maine as I’m writing this. (Did I mention that we’ve moved, again, this time to Maine? So many moves! This Witness Protection Program isn’t as much fun as you’d think.) Much of Maine is without power at the moment in the aftermath of a violent wind and rain storm that went through while I was in DC and Maryland celebrating Tom Paxton’s 80th birthday and Oscar Brand’s life and career—two very excellent musical parties! The next few days will, I expect, be spent dealing with downed limbs, keeping from freezing (it’s supposed to be several days before the lights come back on) and finding drinkable water.
Upcoming shows (all with the fabulous Matt Nakoa on keyboards):
* Friday, November 3rd, Scituate, MA, at the River Club
* Saturday, November 4th, Fall River, MA, at the Narrows
* Wednesday, November 8th, Cleveland, OH, at the Music Box
* Thursday, November 9th, Minneapolis, MN, at the Dakota
* Saturday, November 11th, Green Lake, WI, at the Thrasher Opera House
* Sunday, November 12th, Chicago, IL, at the Old Town School
Check out the upcoming shows page for details about shows later in the year, and stay tuned for the album-release announcement!
All the best,
Scattered thought of the month: I like the line in Elder Green, “He’s got greenbacks, sweet babe, enough to make a man a suit.” I was thinking of having one made for myself, but calculations showed that a 2-piece in $100 bills would take $33,300, a 3-piece $42,800. I’ve determined, then, that I have enough greenbacks, sweet babe, to make a man some shorts. Maybe a thong. Once the kid is out of college. Something to look forward to!