For someone who has been a fixture on the folk scene since the early 1960s, Voices marks the 77 year old Tom Rush’s first album of all original tunes. He’s written some great ones before, such as “No Regrets” which has been covered by everyone from Emmylou Harris to Luna, but his forte was introducing songs to a greater audience, such as Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game”, which was the title of his 1968 Elektra release. Once you listen to Voices, sorta makes you wonder why he’s been so reluctant to write more.
Rush attributes his newly found productivity to a combination of age and a spell at a friend’s farmhouse, but whatever the reason, the 12 songs found here are a spirited, enjoyable feast. Opening with 1 of 2 cover songs on the record, “Elder Green”, a blues and folk standard done by bluesman Charlie Patton, Rush still masterfully picks guitar and sings in the relaxed, no hurry manner that has been a hallmark of his 50-year career. His subjects range from his guitar (“My Best Girl”) to his dog on “Heaven Knows (But It Ain’t Tellin’)”, and a goofy look at New Jersey with “If I Never Get Back to Hackensack”.
Recorded in Nashville, Voices hosts a stellar group of musicians, from Sam Bush on mandolin, the great Dobro of Al Perkins, and the harmonies of Kathy Mattea, whom producer Jim Rooney uses to create a warm and tuneful environment for Rush’s songs. One hopes this stellar release bodes well for more tunes from the hand of Tom Rush!