Mountains are mystical forces of nature, and awe-inspiring monuments of history and change that can trigger immense contemplation and inspiration.
It comes as no surprise, then, that such a personal album addressing endings and purpose would have been forged in Salt Lake City, which lies in a valley wedged between two mountain ranges. Yes, country & Americana songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer Daniel Young’s third LP The World Ain’t Gonna Wait was born among the mountains. With a daily sunset-stricken view of the Oquirrh’s peaks to guide his pen and his guitar, a vulnerable series of songs were born, carrying the same rawness and beauty of the nearby range.
In the creation of this album, Young took on more roles than you’d typically see. He can be heard contributing on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums, bass, percussion, mandolin, lap steel, weissenborn, accordion, and vocals. Additionally, he recorded, mixed, and mastered the collection at Orchard Studios. Needless to say, this was an immense personal undertaking.
The World Ain’t Gonna Wait is ten tracks long, sandwiched on each end by a lyric-less instrumental. Opening with the jovial “Muskrat Mud Shuffle,” a pedal steel guitar-driven ditty at a modest minute-and-a-half long, listeners might expect the rest of the album to be as upbeat and positive. But by the time somber, suspenseful, Spanish-style “Yonder Yucca” closes out the collection, an urgent, emotional journey has been completed. “Muskrat Mud Shuffle” is also the only song on the album which Young did not write; all nine others were written by himself on his back porch.
The album is consistently Western and country, but the inherently rhythmic nature of that style can be misleading once considering the content of the messages. The guitar and percussion of “Distance of Somewhere” give for a fast-paced yet calming song, and the heaviness on his heart only bleeds through in small doses. “I’ll light one last cigarette then I’ll be gone,” he sings, harmonizing with vocalist Corinne Gentry, “before the ashes hit the ground.” Lines like this could be missed amidst the orchestration of mesmerizing sounds.
Other songs, such as “Hit the Moon,” have a more relaxing sound about them, with soothing strings guiding the easygoing melodies. There seems to be a tapering effect throughout the album top to bottom, with the most upbeat songs including “Take It Or Leave It” riding off the energy that the “Muskrat Mud Shuffle” introduced, and saving sadder songs like “Every Leaf That Falls” for the end to wind it down.
The rest of the album lived up to the description we gave title track, “The World Ain’t Gonna Wait,” when we reviewed the single in December: that it “proves Daniel Young fits seamlessly into the country-rock blend of Americana music.”
Overall, the album is a tale of “the urgency and uneasiness of the everyday emergency, the undeniable sense that you may be living your last day—or at least the last day on the world you’ve known.” Supported by talent such as guitarist Sadler Vaden of Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, fiddler Eric Brubaker and Jay Lapp on mandolin, the album is a rich performance of storytelling and musical exploration.