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Jun 21, 2017
If Robyn Ludwick ever makes it big (well, as big as you can make it on the Americana scene), people will wonder just where the hell she came from. "How have I not heard her before?" they'll ask in exasperated tones. I've got news for 'em. She's been here all along, and it's a damn shame how far under the radar she's flown with even Texas country and roots music fans.
This Tall to Ride is Robyn's fifth album, and it's a strong one. It's brimming over with her trademark dark wit, seedy characters, and undeniable melodies. There are few artists in all of music, who can have you cheerfully singing along to a song about "freelancin' hookers" who sniff Visine.
Ludwick's voice is pure Texas with a hint of Stevie Nicks. It's expressive and relatable. There are times she gets a little pinched sounding, but you get used to it... it's not a flaw, it's a feature.
Her songwriting is full of character sketches of losers and funny stories without happy endings. At times, she uses an economy of words to convey a novel full of insight. And the lines… there are lines that can wet your eyes because they're so heartfelt.
If you can find
A place in your heart
For Junkies N Clowns
Then you’re halfway
To believin’ in Me
There are lines that'll wet your eyes from laughing.
Take Cyclops Boy
You know he don’t lie
And brother he’ll look you
Right in the eye
Despite this lyrical prowess, Ludwick never lets the words take precedence over the song. The hooks never fail. The transitions will take your breath. She builds tension then lets you exhale. Most of the songs on This Tall to Ride are ridiculously catchy. It's just a masterclass in songwriting.
It's a steady and consistent album, only because nearly every song is a highlight. If you're looking for a gateway though, "Bars Ain't Closin'" won't steer you wrong. It's forlorn in its tale of being away from a lover, whether due to a break-up or being on the road, but there's a beauty and strangely uplifting tone. When you're listening to a sad song, you're never alone.
"Texas Jesus" might bother the Baptists if they focus on the title … oh, and the subject matter. It's about finding temporary emotional salvation in the arms… hands… whatever… of a part time hooker. "Hard times, easy money, feeling good don't feel bad honey" is the song's refrain and it's how you'll feel listening. Folks on the edges of life finding what they need in a temporary fix. And a great line's in here too: "I can't spell hypocrisy, but I can smell it in the air."
Pretty much all of This Tall to Ride is like that. Broken people getting by however they can. Songs that make you feel so good while hearing about people having it so bad. It'd almost be misery porn, but there's always a bit of optimism, or acceptance at least, to be found in every story. Roses growing in a shut down truck stop parking lot.
Oh, did I mention who Robyn's brothers are? I didn't? Well, that's not even relevant. What's important is that you should listen to this album immediately. Ludwick should be appreciated and celebrated in this scene on her own accord. And don't be caught surprised when she breaks through one of these days. It won't be an overnight success.
This Tall to Ride is available on iTunes, Amazon, Lonestar Music, etc.