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Charlie Robison

Live – 2003 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Charlie Robison

With his "Life of the Party" release, Charlie Robison carved out a place for himself among an elite group of singer-songwriters who are heroes in Texas but practically unknown in most of the country. Measured by songwriting talent, Robison is solid, but he's outshone by his brother Bruce. Measured by fame, neither brother comes close to Charlie's wife Emily (of the Dixie Chicks). Measured by crowd-pleasing ability, though, Charlie is the winner.

Robison's live album, recorded at Gruene Hall in Texas late summer 2002, provides a good overview of his music, including colorful stories of small-town folks, like "Loving County," the tragic story of an oil worker driven to commit a terrible crime. But it's the concert's closer, "My Hometown," that epitomizes Robison's music. The tempo of the song is not too fast, the melody is simple, and the theme is eternal - blue-collar work, hanging out with friends, and drinking beer. The audience eats it up. Robison doesn't even sing the second verse - the crowd sings/shouts it out for him.