Female singer/songwriters in Texas and beyond must scrap and fight twice as hard for half as much as their male counterparts. Some like Patty Griffin and Lucinda Williams rise above the skepticism and doubt, while others for whatever reason are never able to break free of the prejudices and difficulties that come with their chosen career path. The best artists are able to make these sorts of labels disappear and with her latest release, Out of These Blues, Robyn Ludwick stakes her claim as an artist with the strength to erase any preconceived notions about what music can be.
While her work does have thematic and sonic qualities reminiscent of the aforementioned Griffin and Williams, and she carries the musical essence of her brothers (Charlie and Bruce Robison) with pride; her work hits my ears like that of a female Keith Gattis. If Big City Blues was his finest hour, Out of These Blues could be a follow-up to that gem of an album.
Producer Gurf Morlix (Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Slaid Cleaves) definitely knows how to accentuate Ludwick’s best tonal qualities, and he hits all the right arrangements just as he did with Williams’ landmark Car Wheels on a Gravel Road album. Album opener, “Hollywood” sounds like vintage Fleetwood Mac as Ludwick’s voice even hits Stevie Nicks-esque notes over lyrics about that fabled trip of a lover leaving you for the hope of the Pacific Coast.
The title track follows in the sequence and follows the thematic sense of heartbreak. By the time she ratchets up the passion as the chorus rolls around, her emotive delivery is enough to make those even in the most committed relationships feel her heartache. The intro to the soul drenched “Steady” will have you waiting for Al Green to command the mic, but what you have is yet another strong and honest vocal from Ludwick as the music continues to mimic the best of vintage Memphis and Muscle Shoals recordings.
Throughout the album, Ludwick keeps the emotion high and the musicality strong. Her songwriting is a cross between that of her brothers’ as it mixes traditional honky-tonk themes of love, loss and recovery with whimsical optimism in light of the trials and tribulations found when dealing in matters of the heart.
Out of the Blues is not a record for all ocassions, but it is one of the best soundtrack’s I’ve ever heard for those moments when you’re down on your luck, lost in love and the only companions that can help you cope are a stiff drink and music that is in sync with your soul.