Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Nov. 18, 2016
Kicking around Austin since at least 2009, Ricky Stein doesn't boast name recognition beyond perhaps his book on a singularly seminal local psych imprint (revisit "Sonobeat Records," Feb. 7, 2014). That's likely to change with his second solo release, Long Summer, 11 songs in the Americana vein filled with glimpses of his life as a musician, husband, and author. You can often tell a musician's bona fides by the company he keeps, and Stein's accompaniment here – Warren Hood on fiddle, Matt Hubbard on keyboards, Gary Newcomb on pedal steel – points the way to not only top musicianship, but songwriting worthy of such first-call players. Stein's country ways bring to mind a cross between a young Bruce Robison's ear for melody and Adam Carroll's eye for storytelling detail. As such, "Heaven Is a Highway," "Wildfire Rose," and "Buying Time" are among the best country sounds to come out of Austin this year.