Steve Young‘s name is not immediately recognizable, but those who know, know. And know better. The singer-songwriter released a couple of absolutely immaculate country and folk records at a time when the genre was enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the late-’60s and early-’70s. Young’s 1969 debut Rock Salt & Nails, and his 1972 followup Seven Bridges Road are just as important to country (and more specifically, outlaw country) as anything put out by Willie or Waylon.
While many people tend to reach for the slightly rowdier Seven Bridges Road—whose “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean” was later covered by one Waylon Jennings—for me Salt Rock & Nails is the true gem. It could have something to do with the personnel (Gene Clark, Gram Parsons, and fellow Burrito Brother Chris Ethridge all make appearances), which has also led to the record’s cult following. But on this LP Young strikes a perfect balance of country, folk and soul, which not only makes it stand out among his own body of work, but anything in its day.
Parsons contributes organ to Young’s cover of Roosevelt Jamieson‘s “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” which, of course, was a hit for Otis Redding in 1965. It adds just the right touch, however it’s Young’s soulful upper register that is untouchable. Actually, his version is goddamn chilling, and Young’s own haunting and subdued numbers “Coyote” and “Holler In the Swamp” are equally goosebump-inducing. You might want to take it in with some whiskey. Trust me.
“Holler In the Swamp” - Steve Young
“Coyote” - Steve Young
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