Richie Furay, "Hand in Hand" (Entertainment One)
Richie Furay's first solo release in eight years is suffused in nostalgia and contentment, a recipe that could fall short were it not for the ringing guitar work and the soulful, occasionally exuberant vocals. Furay is a rock 'n' roll rarity — a happy man marking 48 years of marriage by putting his wedding picture on the CD cover — and his songs celebrate the long ties that have deepened over decades, not only to his wife but also to the no-longer-young musicians he played with during the glory days of Buffalo Springfield and Poco.
There is a faint hint of boastfulness in the opening track, "We Were the Dreamers," about the early days of the Los Angeles-based country-rock movement he helped found, but Furay's claim to have blazed a trail for generations to come does stand up, at least in musical terms. More important, the guitars and the production are gorgeous: This is perhaps what Buffalo Springfield should have sounded like. It's followed by the title track, "Hand in Hand," billed as a sequel to "Kind Woman," the Buffalo Springfield classic Furay penned after first meeting his future wife Nancy at a Whisky a Go Go gig. It's a heartfelt paean to deep, lifelong commitment, but the lyrics don't break new ground. Later he's joined by Neil Young and Kenny Loggins for a remake of the original "Kind Woman" that has a charm of its own, and lovely harmonies, but, again, few surprises.
It takes the bluesy addition of Keb' Mo' to bring a more dynamic sound to the mix. Under his influence, "Some Day" has a fresher sound and more drive. Perhaps it's good for Furay to move beyond the rather influential circle of friends he made early in his career, even though it's a pleasure to hear him sing about the beauty of the Laurel Canyon sunsets they shared those many years ago.