If you perched James Taylor, David Wilcox, and Harry Chapin, maybe even Gordon Lightfoot, in the South for a couple decades, you'd have Rusty Rierson, a writer / player / singer who sure as hell knows how to choose an array of songs exhibiting the folkiest side of country music. Sure, the genre, which preceded the New York/ Village Vanguard scene by decades, is indeed one of America's true folk musics, but that's often lost in the movements that arose later on—after, say, the Carter Family—and began redefining the style. Well, Rierson's not of Carter vintage, but he sure as hell ain't no rhinestone cowboy either.
Rusty's band boasts some big names—Richie Owens, Dave Pomeroy, Kenny Vaughn, Al Perkins, and so on—and more than once these guys reach back to that apex of the classic period, as in the ballad I Just Miss You, harking to the Village sound mentioned a moment ago, John Sebastian meeting Glenn Yarbrough in Austin or Nashville. Monsters moves the milieu out to the Great Plains and mid-West whence Rierson was reared on a farm in Kansas. This is the guy's fifth disc, and the promo lit claims he's a traditionalist, but I don't quite agree, though I really like the comparison to George Strait. The key to Rierson's distinctiveness is a deft hand in blending the spectrum across many decades while nicely preserving the best elements in each.
The Greater Gift illustrates that in spades, as much a paean from the old barn-raising days as an ode written just yesterday. And if you want to get set down in a definite locale, catch the hony-tonkin' We're Not All There, a tongue in cheek bit about buddies and self-deprecation, a good-timey tune I could easily envision a quartet of drinkin' partners singing behind the high school gym after an evening of dancing and chasing skirt. Needless to say, it's my favorite cut, and, as surely as the sun rises in the morning, I can think of a few times me and my own wrecking crew coulda howled at the moon in just such circumstances, later reflecting "Man, what the heck were we thinkin'???", only to follow it with "But it sure was fun!". Keep that in mind when you get to Drinkin' Beer & Tryin' Lines, the latter part of which isn't what you think it is, in a clever play on words.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles