Richie Furay

I Am Sure

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It's no surprise that this CD sounds a lot like a lost Poco album -- beyond being the work of Richie Furay, it also features Jim Messina, Paul Cotton and Rusty Young; add to that the presence of such renowned figures as Chris Hillman, Jimmy Ibbotson and Jeff Hanna, and you've got not only an intersection with the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, but also a recording with roots deep in first-generation folk-rock-cum-country-rock. And pretty much that's where this album comes down, on the country-rock side of gospel music (or is it the gospel side of country music?). Furay's goal here was to create an album of American worship songs -- he became a Christian rocker some years ago, and has very effectively merged those two parts of who he is on I Am Sure, his lyrics drawn from the Bible, but the obvious sincerity and inspiration behind much of what's here is genuinely moving; as a singer as well as a musician, Furay knows how to wrap a melody around a psalm and make both of them count for something bigger than their individual parts. Even more important, this all works as music, too, at least from a traditional country-rock standpoint -- there aren't any musical revelations here (no joke intended), though "Shout to the Ruler" comes close and the build-up to the harmonization on "Overflow" bears more than one listen, but in many ways this is a beautifully soulful follow-up to many of Poco's best moments from their early albums. Some of the melodies vaguely resemble traditional sources -- "Most High" has moments that make one think of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" -- but there are enough twists, including some pretty good rocking moments (especially on the guitars), sufficient to make this more than an exercise in latter-day folk-rock. It's all well worth a listen or two or three, and won't disappoint fans of Poco or any of Furay's other '70s-era musical ventures.

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