Bruce Robison

His Greatest

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The Bruce Robison album His Greatest is not, as might be supposed, a compilation of previously released recordings, but instead a newly recorded collection. The key omission in that title is the word "hits" that usually follows "greatest." Robison hasn't had any hits as a recording artist, but as a country songwriter he has enjoyed considerable success, and on this album he performs some of the songs he has written that have been hits for others; in some cases, he had recorded them before, notably on the Bruce Robison album, in others these are his first renditions of them. It's easy to tell why these songs have become popular. They display craftsmanship while fitting into the formulas of Nashville writing, treating romantic and sentimental subjects with just a touch of originality that lifts them above the average. That's why Tim McGraw was able to take the marital breakup song "Angry All the Time" to number one in 2001, and why the Dixie Chicks (two of whom are Robison's sisters-in-law) topped the country chart with the patriotic "Travelin' Soldier" in 2003. George Strait tapped the Robison songbook for the Top Tens "Desperately" (2004) and "Wrapped" (2007), both good examples of the songwriter's romantic style, and his brother Charlie Robison had a chart entry with the uptempo "Poor Man's Son." Bruce Robison inclines toward story-songs and tends to eschew the personal and autobiographical, a possible exception here being the family saga "My Brother and Me," so that his songs are easily applicable to other singers, especially ones with strong identities and distinctive sounds. Robison acknowledges that in these new recordings he has been influenced somewhat by the hitmakers. His own versions still tend toward the generic, however. He has a good voice, but not a memorable one, so it's still the songs that stand out, not the singer.

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