Album Review

Bruce Robison - It Came From San Antonio

Bruce Robison - It Came From San Antonio

On which Bruce Robison provides a primer for budding singer-songwriters. First lesson: If you don't have ten or twelve really strong songs, then just go with, say, seven perfect ones as Robison does here. People want good discs before they want long ones. Next, remember that it's not just about the words; you need some hooks, too. And if you can come up with a chorus as irresistible as Robison does for his "Lifeline", people will be more likely to want to listen to your words again and again. It's nice to honor your heroes, too. Robison's title track, for instance, pays tribute to the Sir Douglas Quintet with a song damn near as fun as "She's About A Mover". His "When It Rains" is the best Butch Hancock road trip song that Hancock didn't write. Also: Please, please, please, work on some full-band arrangements, with dynamics and texture and variety and rhythm. Robison's "Anywhere But Here" is by turns bar-band loud and church quiet, both busy and spare; it's keening and rocking and gently funky, and the result is that the song is freed from the tyranny, and tedium, of the strum. Finally, if you can marry Kelly Willis and get her to sing harmony like an angel behind you, that will help, too.