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Too Much Desire

Robyn Ludwick

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Album Review

Three years previously, Texas songwriter Robyn Ludwick's debut album, For So Long, appeared like a stunning blast of central Texas summer heat from the hill country outside Austin. It stands as one of those shocks to the system that makes a listener sit up, take notice, and get slain by. It is sophisticated but uncompromising; it's as sensual as the moisture from a lover's lips on a hot humid night, and as raw as a fresh tattoo. It can't hurt that her brothers are Bruce and Charlie Robison, her sister-in-law is Kelly Willis, and her husband is bassist John Ludwick. But the songs are all hers. Too Much Desire mirrors its title perfectly: its songs are full of the extremes in human emotion and behavior, reflecting the thoughts that occur to us while keeping the night watch restlessly awaiting the dawn. Ludwick's songs are rooted in Texas country music, folk, and even country gospel and rock. Her voice is full and rich, a deep contralto that is as Southern and rugged as the terrain she comes from; it goes deep like Lucinda Williams or Rosanne Cash, yet is as lonesome, rich, and expressive as Stevie Nicks at her best. Husband John and brother-in-law Mike Hardwick (who play bass and guitar, respectively) produced the set, with Eddie Cantu on drums and guitarist Andrew Nafziger completing the band. There are one-offs by friends and more family. Michael Ramos, Warren Hood, Willis, Eliza Gilkyson, Thomas Robison Ludwick, her brothers, and Eleanor Whitmore also appear.

Ludwick is among the most searing, confessional songwriters out there, and the bravery in her approach to delivering these revelatory lyrics-as-exposed-secrets is made possible by the group that backs her. Very few songwriters, male or female, can pull off a lyric as naked as "...I know it ain't cool/How you play with my heart/But it hurts so good when you tear it apart/You're gonna make it alright tonight..." on "Alright," the album opener. It gets more intimate from here, but vulnerability — expressed with acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, a fiddle here and there, and some backing vocal support — shouldn't be translated as weakness. Despite the whining steel and unplugged six-string in true Texas waltz style, one can hear the truth of Bessie Smith's "Empty Bed Blues" in "'72 Texas," when Ludwick sings: "Now I'm lookin' for love/But it ain't lookin good/You see the boys that I like/They don't treat me no damn good...." Ludwick's characters are women who've been deeply disappointed by love, life, and empty promises, but refuse to surrender. No matter how beaten, her protagonists always roll the dice again. They have no way out — as expressed in the amazing song of the same title — but don't care, because the horizon is empty and what's available is right now. "Boulevard," a rocker, is a "bad girl"'s anthem of desire laid bare — it knows the cost and is more than willing to pay it. Yet this is only the beginning of this magical record. Ludwick is a poet and storyteller ("Sweet Marie") whose art pours truth from a broken-necked bottle; it's there in spades. Her aesthetic strength comes from, to paraphrase W.B. Yeats, "the rag and bone shop of the heart." Too Much Desire is strong yet beautiful stuff. It aches and staggers, struts, crumbles in tears, then rises to do it all again throughout. It's as elegant and graceful as a straight razor; it takes no prisoners, makes no apologies. In other words, it's just drop-dead gorgeous.

Customer Reviews

Phenominal

Robyn's 2nd CD is even better than the first. If you are tired of the over-produced Nashcrap sound from the likes of Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson, do yourself a favor a listen to this CD. The lyrics are real and meaningful, and the melodies are pure Texas Country. The musical talent in her family tree is unbelievable (brothers Charlie and Bruce Robison), and she does the family proud with this effort. Maybe the best CD so far in 2008. Check it out.

Great Sophomore Effort

I agree that this cd is excellent. If you liked her first cd, then you won't be disappointed in this one at all. If you haven't heard Robyn, give her a listen, you will be glad you did. Also, if you are ever in the hill country, and get a chance to see Robyn play live you should definitely do it. Her live shows are great.

Ditto

The review written by iTunes says it all, and much better than I could say it. I just saw Robyn perform live last night in Gruene, Texas, where she delighted a packed house with her songs and personality. If you have not had a good listen to this album, take some time to get familiar with her talents as a song writer and singer that lays it on the line, no holds barred. Raw beauty, refined talent.

Biography

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Songwriter and singer Robyn Ludwick’s songs of hard living, romance, and dreams — broken or otherwise — come straight out of her native Texas hill country, a region famous for its songwriters and musicians, all of whom seem to practice a kind of realist country-pop that is as confessional as it is particular. Ludwick certainly had the pedigree when she made her recorded debut in 2005 with the self-released For So Long album — her brothers were musicians Bruce and Charlie Robison,...
Full Bio
Too Much Desire, Robyn Ludwick
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