First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10
Written by T.J. Simon
Hailing from Bandera, Texas, Charlie Robison is a singer-songwriter with a voice like Jimmy Buffett and a lighthearted songwriting style that recalls both John Prine and Todd Snider. He is the brother of Bruce Robison and the husband of Dixie Chick Emily Robison, and on his previous studio albums, he left a mark as a purveyor of impressive country tunes, all of which were frequently accompanied by well-played, but never showy, instrumentation.
Robisonís fourth effort Good Times is better than most mainstream country offerings, but it never quite rises to the level of his most recent records. The best track on the album is the title cut, which cops Prineís mannerisms by merging fun, lyrical wordplay with a solid guitar and piano arrangement. Elsewhere, the liquor-soaked Something in the Water is a memorable tune in the tradition of Little Feat, while Love Means Never Having to Say Youíre Hungry is a large-band blues number that just as easily could have been penned by fellow Texan Lyle Lovett. In other words, Good Times succeeds every time Robison approaches the songs from a clever and humourous perspective. Unfortunately, the converse is also true, and the album suffers whenever Robison gets too serious. His own slow songs (Always and Photograph) prove to be exercises in ho-hum mediocrity, and the ballads written by others (Keith Gattisí Big City Blues and Waylon Payneís The Bottom) are poor choices that donít fare much better.
If itís any consolation, Robison did assemble a credible group of musicians to support his efforts, and their collective contributions keep Good Times from faltering further. In particular, Chip Dolanís Tex-Mex accordion on Flatland Boogie serves as an effective example of Robisonís ear for selecting good backing talent. Even so, while thereís nothing to abhor on the outing, the album does fail to live up to the high standards Robison previously established for himself with his superb efforts Life of the Party and Step Right Up.
Good Times is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box