Meisner, Swan & Rich

Meisner, Swan & Rich

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This frustratingly brief ten-track album is a lovely re-creation of the '70s West Coast country-pop sound as best practiced by the Eagles (of which Randy Meisner was a founding member), CSN, Poco (another Meisner group), and various lesser-known offshoots like the Souther Hillman Furay Band and Firefall. It's a little on the slick side, but these songs are all top-notch, well-crafted, and splendidly sung by three titular country-rock vets whose beautiful voices melt collectively. Charlie Rich, Jr., who like his dad plays piano, is responsible for the majority of the songwriting, co-writing a few tunes with Billy Swan. Sadly Meisner, who wrote some of the Eagles' best ballads, only pens one track, the reflective "My How Things Have Changed." There are a few upbeat rockers, like "Who's Gonna Love You Baby?," but the majority of the disc stays focused on peaceful, easy-feeling-styled, broken-hearted slow songs that go down smooth and sad. Meisner in particular is in fine form, singing in his teary tenor on weepers like "(It's Like I) Never Had a Broken Heart," a track that sounds like a great lost Eagles B-side. Swan adds some swamp on "Honey (Sweet Sweet Honey)," but Rich Jr.'s earnest tunes dominate this collection. Actually it's the harmonies that rivet your attention, as these three voices effortlessly coalesce and sound like they've been singing together for years. Even though it leans toward easy listening, it's a far cry from the soulless, sterile country clogging up the radio waves in 2001. This is a highly recommended debut, geared to those pining for the days when the singer/songwriter L.A. sound ruled the charts. Maybe next time they can write a few more songs and push past an anemic but enjoyable half hour of music.

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