365 Days, 365 Files: Bruce Robison – Wrapped

When I first moved to Austin, I tried to be cool and listen to all the popular stuff attracting local audiences at the time. I bought up Asylum Street Spankers, 8 1/2 Souvenirs, the Damnations TX, Fastball, the Golden Arm Trio — in short, I was trying to figure out what I really liked.

The Austin bands I listen to now pretty much fall in the indie rock sector: … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Explosions in the Sky, Black Lipstick.

During that "discovery" phase, I bought albums by Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, the famed husband-and-wife team with distinct solo careers. Willis’ What I Deserve was flying off the shelves, and curiosity won out. Verdict: Wow, was that boring.

That was not the case with Robison’s Wrapped. I spun that album multiple times, and while I haven’t managed to warm up to any of his other work, I do keep that album.

The title track is a stunner. Although Robison performs it as a straight country tune, a slight tweak could turn it into a mainstream adult contemporary pop song. Heck, it could even go adult alternative pop.

His collaborations with brother Charlie and Monte Warden are other highlights of the album, and the smooth production by Lloyd Maines (father of Dixie Chick Natalie) certainly helps.

Wrapped is a terrific album by a songwriter who’s penned hits for the Dixie Chicks and that other husband-wife team, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I haven’t heard the McGraw/Hill version of "Angry All the Time", but Robison’s duet with Willis on Wrapped has a rough quality I suspect is far more satisfying.

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