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Bruce Robison

Eleven Stories – 2006 (Sustain)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Bruce Robison

Bruce Robison is as much songwriter as singer. His "Travelin' Soldier" and "Desperately" were big hits for the Dixie Chicks and George Strait, respectively. His best song, "Angry All the Time," was just as gorgeous in his original recording with wife Kelly Willis as in the later, more famous Tim McGraw/Faith Hill version.

On this album, Robison's likeable tenor and the mostly acoustic arrangements make for enjoyable listening. Furthermore, Willis hasn't recorded much of her own music recently, so it's a rare treat to hear her singing backing vocals.

"All Over But the Cryin'" is the best of many highlights. The song's great midtempo groove belies the anguish of the lyrics - "I hope some day I can smile and think how crazy I was about you." Willis lends plaintive quavering background lyrics that complete the standout performance.

"Days Go By" is the album's great story song, a poignant first-person tale of a homeless man who's just passing time. "Kitchen Blues" and the album's opener, "Every Once in a While," are simple, understated songs that draw the listener in. "Virginia" is catchy and upbeat, and seems like the most obvious hit.

This is another very enjoyable record from one of Texas's greatest songwriters.