Private Angel Records announced last week that it is preparing Rick Busby’s Strawberry Moon for vinyl release in a joint venture with Austin-based Atticus Records. Depending on manufacturing schedules, the vinyl release is expected to be available in late 2016 or early 2017 in time for the album’s fifth anniversary. First released on CD and digital platforms in 2012, Strawberry Moon is Busby’s second full length album release, featuring six new original songs, including the title track, co-written with frequent collaborator, Lenny Cochrun.
In addition to the original compositions, Strawberry Moon includes four covers, including the Gordon Lightfoot classic, “Carefree Highway,” which received a nomination at the 2013 Texas Music Awards for Best Cover Song. Also included on the album are songs written by Rick Danna, Bob Cheevers and Stephen Doster, who also produced the album at EAR Studios in Austin, Texas.
The Rick Danna composed track, “I’ve Been Lifted Up,” is a song that Busby and Danna have been performing together since 2001, when it first appeared on Danna’s solo debut, Right Where You Belong. Later, when the duo began performing with a full band as The Rick Show, the track became a center piece of the band’s shows, often closing their shows. The version on Danna’s debut was mostly acoustic, while the version on Strawberry Moon is a dramatic rendering, mounting to a dramatic climax, powered by the anthemic lead guitars of Kenny Wiebusch.
The Bob Cheevers composed track, “Old Soul,” is a favorite of Busby’s that first appeared on Cheevers’ 1999 album, The Stories I Write. Like the original version of “I’ve Been Lifted Up,” Cheevers’ original recording of “Old Soul” was a mostly acoustic affair. The version on Strawberry Moon is a swampy, electric blues, featuring a powerful vocal from Busby and a searing lead provided by Kenny Wiebusch, who shines on many of the album’s tracks.
The final cover, “Never Be The One,” is a song that first appeared on producer Stephen Doster’s 1996 power pop chestnut, Rosebud. Like the covers from Danna and Cheevers, Doster’s version from Rosebud was perhaps the most sedate, acoustic driven song on the entire record, featuring an extended bridge and a final verse that does not appear on Strawberry Moon. At Busby’s request, Doster trimmed the bridge and deleted the entire last verse that appeared on the Rosebud rendition. The result is a tightly arranged track that, in a perfect world, would have wound up on multiple radio format playlists. It is perhaps the most overt love song on Strawberry Moon, depicting the relationship between a working musician, the woman he loves and the challenges that stress and strain even those relationships grounded in true love.
Arranged around the covers are 6 Busby originals, including the title track, Strawberry Moon, co-written with Lenny Cochrun. The title track, originally inspired by the life of Busby’s father, who died in prison, becomes more of a tribute to fathers and sons, the disappointed expectations between the generations and the forgiveness it takes to heal those breaches.
The balance of the album features songs exploring Busby’s primary lyrical themes of spirituality and earthly relationships. Busby delves into the realms of spiritual and creative purpose in tracks like the country rock opener “A Chance in Heaven” and “Like A Dove,” the anthemic statement of purpose that is the penultimate track on Strawberry Moon.
Packed between all of the aforementioned tracks are two of Busby’s patented busted love songs, the chiming guitar driven, “Lilia,” and the straight ahead, heartland rocker “Detroit Rain.” Like “Strawberry Moon,” the final Busby original on the album, “Home Back To You” was in some ways also inspired by Busby’s father, exploring the themes of shifting identities and spiritual realization over the course of a single lifetime. Done in an electric, country waltz style, the track will close side 1 of the vinyl issue.
Upon its release, the vinyl version of Strawberry Moon will be available online through both Private Angel and Atticus, as well as their online distributor, DBM Entertainment. Pre-orders for the Strawberry Moon vinyl issue will begin in late summer 2016.