Rick Faris has been increasingly gaining momentum these last few years as one of bluegrass music’s premier talents. His third solo release, Uncommon Sky, casts an even greater focus on his compositional abilities, while continuing to demonstrate his masterful vocals and musicianship.
The project opens with Don’t Hold Back, co-authored by Faris and beloved bluegrass personality Evan Dickerson. This uplifting song about leaning on the heavenly Father for wisdom and counsel introduces us to the core backing band on this recording. Along with Rick on guitar and lead vocals, he is supported by his brother, Eddie Faris, and Ben James on harmony vocals, Laura Orshaw on fiddle, Zak McLamb on upright bass, Harry Clark on mandolin, and Luke Munday on banjo.
The Power of Love comes from the repertoire of the iconic pop rock band, Huey Lewis and the News. Faris gives this song a strong bluegrass treatment. Stephen Mougin contributes wonderful baritone harmony to this track.
Please Don’t Say Goodbye has a message of not giving up on love despite whatever trials a couple may face in their relationship. This track pairs Rick with Dani Flowers and also features excellent dobro backing from Jerry Douglas. Misery-Go-Round has a similar and very clever message. The latter track features Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Russ Carson on banjo.
Too Lonely, Way Too Long is one of the highlights of this project. Featuring Rick along with the legendary Del McCoury on tenor vocals, this track shows both of these powerhouse vocalists at their absolute best. Jerry Douglas again contributes some incredibly tasteful playing to this song.
Given that Rick is a native of Kansas, it’s no surprise two of the songs featured on this recording revolve around that state. Kansas Cornfields, co-authored with Rick Lang, tells the story of Rick’s grandfather, Edward Faris, and the many long hard hours he worked both at the farm and in the mines. Topeka Twister, written again with Dickerson, recounts the tale of the tornado that hit downtown Topeka in 1966.
You Can’t Slow The River Down, also co-written with Lang, discusses that life will go in whatever direction it wants to go, and that we have to be willing to roll with it and have gratitude. It’s one of several songs on this album with a strongly positive message.
This recording closes with I’m Not Waiting ‘Round, a barn burner of a song which talks of not wasting your time with someone who doesn’t love or respect you. This track in particular features blistering instrumental performances from Russ Carson on banjo and Harry Clark on mandolin.
Rick Faris is one who continually shows growth in every avenue of his craft. Uncommon Sky presents his refined and confident identity as an artist.