Black Music Matters Festival

Bruce Robison

Long Way Home From Anywhere – 1999 (Lucky Dog)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

CDs by Bruce Robison

Bruce Robison's talent as a songwriter and storyteller is well matched by his persuasive, low-key delivery and polished-but-not-slick production. He delivers his visions with keenly drawn four-minute musical novellas, describing intricate pictures with small, telling details.

In "Travelin' Soldier" he renders youth-shattering loss with heartbreaking imagery and a haunting chorus that culminates on a seamless blend of classical strings, pedal steel, and harmony vocals from wife Kelly Willis.

His songs of marriage capture the exultation of love's bond ("Just Married" - recently performed at brother Charlie's marriage to Dixie Chick Emily Erwin) as well as the thornier realities of weddings ("Emotionally Gone"). He ranges from introspective ballads ("What Did You Think") to Texas- flavored honky-tonk ("The Good Life," "Red Letter Day") to electrified country road songs. He shifts effortlessly from the folky style of James Taylor to the rockier sounds of Steve Earle, all the while retaining a distinct lyrical voice. High quality songs, sincere singing, and the undiluted presentation of both, are treasures.