Record Review - 2 January 09 2002

While the cover illustration of a smiling couple recalls a time when the living was happy and easy, some of the music on of Bruce Robison's current release paints quite a different picture.

You'd think that Robison has every reason to bask in good fortune's glow on Country Sunshine, what with one of his songs covered by Nashville hit machine Tim McGraw, a successful marriage to the talented and beautiful Kelly Willis and a new son. So one wonders where pain-filled songs like "Friendless Marriage" and "Bed of Ashes" come from.

But Robison has long been a master of words. And after all, it's about selling records, right?

Well, maybe for McGraw, but Robison certainly hasn't sold many. And that's a shame, because Robison is a great songwriter and a fine singer. And with Willis pitching in on vocals, his albums deserve to be heard.

After bouncing around from label to label, Robison wisely chose to release Country Sunshine on his own. Breaking out of the mold that stereotypes most Texas artists, he mixes his country with a thoughtful, easy-flowing pop sound. Granted, there are a few sad songs, but Robison also manages the sweetly autobiographical "Valentine" and the hilarious tribute "What Would Willie Do?" which celebrates the contributions of the legendary Mr. Nelson, the archetypal Texas musician. The Red Headed Stranger surely must be honored — and Robison is certainly in good company.??