ND First Spin: Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison – ‘Cheaters Game’
By Kim Ruehl
For years at Christmas, the music-loving crowds in Austin, Tex., have been lapping up the delicious harmonies and sweet, natural musicality which seems to magically happen when Kelly Willis and her husband Bruce Robison take the stage together. Eventually, it was bound to happen that the couple would become as beloved in their duo work as they have with their solo efforts.
Then, in 2008, Willis announced she was going to take some time off from the road. She’s made a handful of appearances since then but, understandably, a considerable swirl of interest has been blowing around the couple’s first full-on studio effort. Even as Willis and Robison have contributed to each other’s recordings through the years, their first foray into full-fledged duo album-making comes Feb. 12 with the release of Cheaters Game.
With songs by folks like Dave Alvin, Robert Earl Keen, Hayes Carll, and more, this is a disc of not only delicious Kelly-and-Bruce harmonies; it’s a testament to the glorious array of the Americana community. Then, of course, there are the originals – teeming with as much cowboy energy as they are rough-and-tumble rockabilly roots. As you can hear below, it is a stirring, catchy, musical, remarkable recording.
From a press release:
“For all their differences musically—Willlis explains, ‘I’m more rockabilly/60s, and he’s got that ‘70s Texas songwriter thing’—they’re both artists deeply rooted in the hard country, yet deeply progressive music scene that’s Texas post-Bob Wills. A place long on big emotions, serious Saturday nights, long necks, roadhouses, big hair, roughnecks and tender hearted women, Texas’ Robison and Willis bridge the gaps and build a refuge for the Venus/Mars continuum that is men and women high on hormones and short on guilt, not to mention the craggy aftermath of same.
“They also follow in the tradition of couples making kinetic music of all stripes. Not just Johnny and June and Tammy and George, Waylon and Jesse or even Conway and Loretta, but also X’s roots-steeped punks John Doe and Exene Cervenka. That merging of songs and life, knowing and dreaming adds depth and frenzy to the music.”
Now, without further ado, the full stream of ‘Cheaters Game’. Be sure to give it a few spins, then tell us what you think.
We’ll pick two lucky commenters from the thread and send them a copy of the album on high-quality vinyl. To enter, just scroll to the bottom of this page and leave a comment in the comment box, telling us what your favorite song on this record is, and why.
The contest will close next Monday, Feb 11, 2013 at 11:59 p.m PST. Anyone is welcome to enter but the prize must be shipped to a US address.