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{Review} Charlie Robison – Beautiful Day

 

I’ve heard this record, Beautiful Day, described by some industry people as being Charlie’s divorce album. There’s nothing here as dark as Vern Gosdin’s Alone or Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages, but the big D is something that permeates the entire record.
It is the elephant in the room that the listener is hearing even when Charlie is singing about good times. The album kicks off with the title track, a catchy tune about a girl on that poetic journey of self-discovery and awakening. But, is there a metaphor in the lyrics of the girl trudging off past problems for brighter days ahead that mirrors Robison’s marriage.

Yet, like the exceptional songwriter he is, Robison never lets on with any autobiographical details, he wisely colors outside the lines and leaves the heavy thinking to the listener. “Yellow Blues” title belies the groove that it hides within the chorus. There’s nothing bluesy or yellow about this tune. Robison’s rapid fire lyrics grab your attention, while the banging rhythm gets your toe tapping. “Down Again” is vintage Charlie Robison. With melancholy lyrics that read like the best of Terry Allen or Robert Earl Keen, and music that when played live would keep the floor packed. Words come out of this song and hit you straight in your heart, especially knowing the back story of Robison’s past couple years.

That lyrical wheelhouse is spun further on “Nothin’ Better To Do”, where Robison’s heartfelt words are paired with a freewheeling musical vibe as he sings heartbroken lyrics such as:

I woke up early today and thought of seven different ways
to like myself less than you do
for any reason false or true
Now you dig me more than I dig myself
And I’m in love with you cuz I got nothin’ better to do…I got nothin’ better

“Feelin’ Good” picks the mood back up, a classic roadtrip song about blasting Willie on the radio and saving your soul on a backroad. “Middle of the Night” is another vintage Robison track that could’ve been found on any of his albums and displays that his pen and voice are both as strong as ever.

A track that stands out from anything Robison has ever cut is “She’s So Fine”, a rollicking track full of distorted guitars, bluegrass speed mandolin, and a wicked fiddle and drum intro. And, the one track that’s already getting a lot of buzz is the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Racin’ In the Streets”. It is a respectful cover without being note for note. Robison puts his imprint on the song and if I hadn’t known better I’d have thought he wrote it himself because it fits so beautifully into the rest of the album.

Robison doesn’t crank out material as often as many of his peers, but he is very consistent with the quality. This is a fine album from start to finish and only further embellishes the legend of Charlie Robison.

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