Archive for the Charlie Robison Category

Weekend YouTube: New Year’s Day

Posted in Charlie Robison, Slaid Cleaves on January 1, 2011 by AmericanaPulse

Happy New Year!

Top 20 of 2009: 21-19

Posted in Charlie Robison, Porterdavis, Samantha Crain, Top 20 of 2009 on December 15, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

My decade list has been posted. The Bird List has been compiled. Now it’s time to look back at this year’s new releases and attempt to list my favorite albums of 2009.

It’s important to note that these are my favorite albums and not necessarily a critical review of the best of the year. There’s a lot of stuff out there that I didn’t hear this year, a lot of things I enjoyed but didn’t earn favorite status, and a few critical darlings that just flat didn’t do it for me. This is simply a list of the 20 albums that I enjoyed the most this year and the ones I kept coming back to.

A couple of notes before we get into it…

I’m doing 20 instead of ten this year because that’s the size of the list I came up with for The Bird List (A collective effort by 30 Americana and Roots bloggers to create a master list of the most essential albums of 2009). In fact, this list will have 21 albums because it includes one album that was not on my entry for The Bird List. This album’s inclusion on the list is based on my bending of the definition of “2009” in order to make it fit. I’ll tell you more when we get to that spot.

The write ups for each album will also be a bit shorter than last year. I’ve already written about most of the albums on this list at least once this year. Where I can, I’ll provide links to the original posts as I progress through the list. The mp3 links in the original posts will be inactive, but I will provide active mp3 links for each album in the new posts.

Ok… Let’s get started…

#21. Porterdavis by Porterdavis

I was first introduced to this trio from Austin this summer when they sent me a copy of their self-titled studio debut produced by the wonderful Gurf Morlix. When I noticed they were headed to Knoxville in September to play the Blue Plate Special and a few other shows, I gave the album a few spins and really came to like what I heard.

The band had a unique sound that was built around the vocals and guitars of lead singer Daniel Barrett and filled out nicely by Simon Wallace on harmonica and Mike Meadows on the Black Swan Drum (an instrument of his own invention). Simon’s harmonica heavily ties the band’s sound to the blues while also taking some cues from folk and alternative country. The lead track on the album, “Smack You Back,” showcases all of this while also dropping some lyrical references to classic rock. Here’s the studio version of the track along with another version played live at the WDVX studios when the guys visited with me in September. You can also listen to their entire visit here.

Porterdavis: Smack You Back (Buy Album)
Porterdavis: Smack You Back (Live @ WDVX) (Buy Album)

#20. Beautiful Day by Charlie Robison

My original review of this album was one of the first posts removed by the blog police this summer, but that won’t stop me from including it here as one of my favorites of 2009.

As I said previously, Charlie has always been my favorite of the two Robison brothers. This album goes a long way toward explaining why. Charlie always seemed to have a bit more of an edge than his brother Burce, and that shows through clearly here on songs like “Yellow Blues” and “Nothin’ Better to Do.” Charlie’s music has always seemed a little more carefree and wild than his brother’s.

That’s why it’s so striking that the true successes of this album come when Charlie lets his more vulnerable side shine through. He recorded this album in the aftermath of his divorce from long time wife Emily Erwin of the Dixie Chicks. The heartbreak is palpable in the pleading “Reconsider” and the mournful “Down Again.” But he refuses to give in to the failures of the past, and instead turns his eyes to the future on tracks like “Feeling Good.” Despite the emotional scar at the center of the album, Charlie never seems defeated by the circumstances of his life. He sees the Beautiful Day on the other side of his pain and lets the light shine through.

Charlie Robison: Beautiful Day (Buy Album)

#19. Songs in the Night by Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers

Samantha Crain is a young songwriter from Oklahoma who turned a lot of heads this year with her full length debut Songs in the Night. On this release, Samantha displays a mature songwriting style and manages to create her own individual sound while still allowing each song to have a life and feel of its own. She is able to convincingly pull off the subdued “Long Divison” just as easily as the up tempo “Devil’s in Boston.”

Samantha appeared on Tennessee Shines in October and also visited me in the studio before the show. She played a couple of songs for me in the studio and shared a great story about how an email to the Avett Brothers helped to jump start her career. It was great to have such a promising young artist in the studio to share her story and her music. As much as her songs spoke to me on the album, it was amazing to have her share them with me one on one in the WDVX studio. Here voice is truly a unique instrument and one I was glad to have the opportunity to experience up close. You can listen to my entire interview with Samantha Crain here and check out a studio track and a live performance below.

Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers: Songs in the Night (Buy Album)
Samantha Crain: Get the Fever Out (Live @ WDVX) (Buy Album)

Charlie Robison: Beautiful Day (Repost)

Posted in Charlie Robison on July 14, 2009 by AmericanaPulse
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.