Bruce Robison Reviewed

Country Sunshine

Bruce Robison Reviewed

Bruce Robison

Country Sunshine (Boar's Nest)

Nothing bespeaks a good song -- make that a great song -- than the absolute certainty you've heard it before. "What Would Willie Do" is just such a song, arguably the centerpiece of Bruce Robison's fourth and best album, Country Sunshine. An inspired, aspiring to the heroic ode to Austin's Red Headed Stardust Stranger -- country music's Zen cowboy, solving the problems of mankind from the back of his bus -- "What Would Willie Do" is just one of album's fistful of great songs. Lilting leadoff "Can't Get There From Here," written with Allison Moorer, ready made for radio -- Triple-A, country, the Mix, you name it. Follow-up "Bed of Ashes," swept with Kelly Willis' perfect harmony, even better. The speakeasy blitheness of "Devil May Care," fun, fun, fun, 'til her daddy takes the pick-up away. Best of all may be "Friendless Marriage," which Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, who've had a 10-gallon hat-sized success with another Robison great, "Angry All the Time," should just get it over with and cut now. That the song was written with Robison's wife Willis and features another priceless, smoked hickory vocal from her, might alarm their in-laws as to the state of their union, but then again, no one could misconstrue a duet such as this. Things get a bit maudlin on the closing trio of songs, but they don't approach the milquetoast consistency of the nice Robison brother's last album for Sony, 1999's Long Way Home From Anywhere. Instead, Country Sunshine's twang and a bucolic warmth mirrors the album's "velvetone" artwork and harkens back to Robison's masterful '98 debut, Wrapped, on which "Angry All the Time" originates. That LP's duet with Charlie Robison is about the only thing missing from Country Sunshine, an album that sounds awfully familiar from the very first spin.

***.5

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