Mickey Newbury

Rusty Tracks

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Newbury hooks up with Bobby Bare as a producer and puts out Rusty Tracks, a record full of pedal steel guitars, fiddles, cut time rhythms, and lyrical darkness, for his first album for ABC/Hickory. This concentration on one music and its classic themes and rougher-edged production proved to be as great as anything he had done since his early records. "Makes Me Wonder if I Ever Said Goodbye" answers in true loner fashion his early '70s classic "She Never Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye," and the whispering gospel prayer "Bless Us All" takes the darkness Newbury held so firmly in his grasp and opens it up for all of us to be a part of; it expresses our own longing and wish for fulfillment. But it's the close of the album that knocks the listener out of her chair. Mirroring his own "American Trilogy" of half a decade before, Newbury strings together -- once more without seams -- four pieces of classic Americana with breathtakingly gorgeous arrangements: "Shenandoah," "That Lucky Old Sun," "Danny Boy," and "In the Pines." On this set, the orchestra appears and Newbury's singing is as good as anybody's ever was. He doesn't merely sing these songs -- he is them, a part and parcel of the fabric of the notes themselves and what they represent. Just when Americans were trying to forget who they were by embracing European disco and punk rock as well as dumbed-down versions of both country and jazz, Newbury reveals -- much to his own commercial detriment -- who and what we are as a nation. There is no more stunning finish to a Newbury record -- maybe anybody's record.

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