Charlie Robison

Texas platters

Phases & Stages

Charlie Robison

Good Times (Dualtone) Charlie Robison gets a lot of credit – from Kevin Fowler on down – for pioneering the whole "Texas Music" shebang, but what he's really done is invent a stirring brand of Hill Country soul. Situations ripped from the headlines of Bandera and Blanco counties, and songs that begin, "Skinny dipping in the Pedernales River ...," sound as comfortable with Guy Clark as Steve Earle. His second four-star album in as many tries, Good Times is darker and mellower than 2001's Life of the Party, but only because there's no song told by a brawling Irishman, though surely the transvestite Laredo stripper Pussy Willow Rose of "New Year's Day" makes up for that. Even so, sometimes good-time Charlie's got the blues: A Mississippi belle doesn't survive a star-crossed affair in the bluegrassy "Magnolia," and "Big City Blues" smolders with slow Southern grind. Lloyd Maines' co-production means there's also a whole lotta Lubbock, as on Terry Allen's slow cumbia "Flatland Boogie." Maines' daughter Natalie, meanwhile, ceases deposing the president long enough to stop by "El Cerrito Place," a sultry tale of lost love in L.A. And speaking of Dixie Chicks, "Love Means Never Having to Say You're Hungry," in naked metaphors like "You know I love her biscuits, you know I love her buns," only hints at the kind of home cooking Robison and wife Emily must get into. Good times indeed.

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