What I Know

Tom Rush

Appleseed, 2009


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


An old friend is here for a visit; Tom Rush has recorded his first studio album in thirty-five years, What I Know, which was released February 24th.

Rush began his career in 1961 and has just turned sixty-eight. He was an important part of the ‘60s folk movement and released such classic albums as Take A Little Walk With Me and The Circle Game. While he has continued to tour and has issued several live albums, this release marked his return to the studio.

His sound may be more modern but it still easily falls in the folk category. His five original compositions and ten covers quickly establish the fact that he is still a powerful interpreter of songs. His baritone remains intact and continues to be a pleasurable listening experience.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I have now listened to What I Know several times and find it a mature and reflective work. There are several light and sunny songs but they are balanced by a number of tracks that look back at life’s journeys. It all adds up to one of the better albums that I have heard in quite a while. Rush’s writing skills remain intact and made me wish for more original compositions.

“Hot Tonight” is a perky, up-tempo love song -- well, it’s sort of a love song: “C’mon let’s go downtown / C’mon let’s mess around / Put your hair up right and wear your dress too tight / It’s gonna get hot tonight.” Anyway, you get the idea. “River Song” is a haunting song of longing and ultimately peace (“Well, the gypsies know my future, but the angels know my past / I rolled all ‘round this great wide world to find a love to last”). The title song is a simple, upbeat, and effective love song with lines like “I don’t know how deep the sea is / I don’t know how high the sky / What I know is, I’m going to love you.”

Three cover songs here stand out. “East Of Eden” was written by Jack Tempchin and recorded by the Eagles. Rush gives an understated vocal on this gentle presentation with acoustic and steel guitars in support. The old Dobie Gray hit song “Drift Away” is stripped down to basics with just an acoustic guitar and cello to support the vocal. He even manages to make the traditional railroad song “Casey Jones” interesting.

Tom Rush is now approaching seventy years old and two tracks on this disc find him reflecting upon his life’s passing. “Too Many Memories,” with a supporting vocal by Emmylou Harris, looks back from the viewpoint of someone who is aging and provides insight onto the road that everyone will eventually travel. “All A Man Can Do” has Rush advising; “Live each moment as your last / ‘Cause life goes by so damn fast.”

What I Know is a superior album from an old folkie. It allows the listener to catch up with the thoughts and music of a celebrated artist from the ‘60s. The door will always be unlocked when Tom Rush comes knocking.

Rating: A

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