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Bruce Robison - Eleven Stories
Review By Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

Texas singer-songwriter Bruce Robison releases a new album on a new label "Sustain Records", distribution by Universal Music. Robison has written many hits for other country artists and has a large catalog of songs.

Robison sort-of-like has Texas Music royalty in his family. He is married to Texas beauty Kelly Willis, who has recorded some great CD's of her own and sings backup vocals here. His Brother Charlie is another very successful singer-songwriter who is married to Dixie Chick Emily (singer and Dobro player), so Robison is surrounded by music. Interesting, lately Bruce and Kelly have been doing a TV commercial for a popular allergy medicine. Most people probably don't know who they are, however before the commercial, the camera pans to their equipment cases which have their names on it. 

This is a beautiful package, one of those cardboard CD covers which I love ( to me, they are just warmer than jewel cases, more like album covers). He has three sets of musicians that perform on the songs and let's you know by symbol which band is playing on which song. The most popular musicians are Al Perkins on steel, Randy Scruggs on banjo and acoustic guitar and of course, his wife Kelly on vocals. Robison wrote eight of the eleven songs.

This recording really gives credence to the argument of not selling all of those big studios for sale in Nashville. This was recorded partially at Premium Recording Services, Robison's home studio and some recording done at Masterlink Studio in Nashville. Kevin Szymanski mixed it at Robison's home studio and probably did some post production as there are no mastering credits. Honestly, this is just not a very good quality recording. Doug Sax mastered Kelly Willis's last CD "Easy" and it is incredible. This disc is full of distortion, pops, hum and is over-compressed. A really loud CD, sounds like it was recorded at least at +1 DB, heavy metal artists record at +3 DB. the more you compress in post production, the more distortion you get and it also takes away the natural dynamics of the music. Well, enough about that , a lot of artists are into these types of over-compressed recordings, they must consider it artsy.

Anyway, let's get into the songs;
"Virginia" - An upbeat acoustic/electric rocker that has a great melody, some real nice lead guitar, acoustic guitar, lots of distortion. Robison has a very smooth voice. Randy Scruggs has some great banjo in the beginning.

"All Over But The Cryin' " - This is a real pretty ballad, Willis sounds good singing backup vocals, nice strings, some great hooks. Loud electric guitar riffs and real nice lead guitar break, nice pedal steel.

"Don't Call It Love" - Another song that is slow and melodic, nice organ fills, drums, and bass. Plagued by distortion. Really pretty pedal steel by Perkins, nice guitar work that breaks up bad. Some great lyrics.

"You Really Let Yourself Go"- A Texas upbeat honky tonk song that sounds live. Great telecaster break that trades riffs with Perkins. Nice fiddle. Has a rockabilly feel.

"Kitchen Blues" - Now this sounds sweet, not as much distortion, really nice vibe, a different band than the other songs mentioned. Nice bouncy feel. Great picture evoking lyrics. Beautiful guitar and banjo. Love this song.

Another song I really like is "I Never Fly", it's a pretty ballad which is sparser. Nice mix, quieter, just very pretty (could see the Chicks doing this). The material is good, will do well for Robison.

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