Charlie Robison: Beautiful Day (Repost)

Turns out this post got deleted a while back. I got no notification from blogger… so I didn’t know it was missing. The Euro blog-police seem to be out in full force lately.

Since I know I was granted the full permission of Dualtone Records to post mp3s from this album, I am putting this up as a repost. I do this because I really like the album and want people who are interested in it to be able to read the review.

I am not re-posting the files, because I don’t want to go through all of this again. If you want to hear some of Charlie’s music… check out his myspace page.
With all due apologies to Bruce… Charlie has always been my favorite Robison brother.

Bruce Robison has had more commercial success than his brother as the writer of such hits as Tim McGraw’s “Angry All the Time,” the Dixie Chicks’ “Traveling Soldier,” and George Strait’s “Wrapped” among others. He’s also had a great deal of success writing for, and performing with, his wife Kelly Willis (her version of “Wrapped” puts Strait’s to shame), and has released several solo albums as well.

For me though, I’ve just always enjoyed Charlie Robison’s work a little more. His songwriting probably isn’t as polished as his younger brother’s, but there has always been an edge to Charlie’s music that I’ve never found in Bruce’s. If Bruce was the sensitive songwriter with songs of love and loss… then Charlie was the carefree playboy with tunes of whiskey, women, and good times with the occasional murder ballad thrown in for good measure.

On his new release Beautiful Day, however, Charlie finds a reason to explore some more personal material. Last August, Charlie, who had for years been married to Emily Erwin of The Dixie Chicks, finalized his divorce. Robison describes the split as “amicable,” but says the process was still extremely hard to deal with. Consequently, themes of loss permeate the album.

In “Down Again,” Robison laments that even though his love is gone, she still shows up in all his songs. That’s mostly true as there seems to be some reference to Emily in almost all of the album’s nine original tunes* (the album’s tenth tune is a subdued cover of Springsteen’s “Racing in the Streets”). Most noticeably, she appears in the album’s centerpiece “Reconsider,” a song that reads as a last ditch plea to reclaim what he once had.

In spite of the overarching themes of divorce and loss that hang over most of the album… there is a silver lining. Charlie Robison acknowledges that his world has been turned around, but also realizes that sometimes there’s nothing as promising as a fresh start and a blank canvas. In the wake of loss, comes new beginnings, and after several listens to this album… that’s what sticks. A man that has been through tough times but comes out smiling with an eye on the future.

Musically, most of the album is uptempo and upbeat… especially the title track, which Charlie says is his way of poking a little fun at his ex. He takes some good natured jabs at her politics and lifestyle while also illustrating some of the reasons for the couple’s split. In all, it’s a very sunny song that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Charlie says he and Emily remain friends, and she loved the song the from first time she heard it.

Beautiful Day is Charlie Robison’s first album in five years… and one of his best. It’s a shame he and his family had to go through what they did to make this album possible. But this album, born out of a marriage ending, presents many new beginnings and hope for more beautiful days to come.

Songs removed

*EDIT: Looks like I goofed on the songwriting credits a bit. Keith Gattis wrote one song and co-wrote another with Charles Brocc. Another was penned by Bobby Bare Jr.

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