Little Rain

Robyn Ludwick does not trade in good times and sentimentality. She writes and sings hard songs about hardened souls (mostly women) gritting their teeth and guarding their hearts against the even harder realities of life, love, and circumstance. Little Rain, Ludwick’s fourth album and second produced by Gurf Morlix, finds her navigating through a rocky emotional landscape of estranged family relationships (“Mama”), strained — or at least sorely tested — love affairs and marriages (“She’ll Get the Roses,” “Heartache”), and even incest (“Longbow, OK”). But it’s resilence, not defeat, that defines her songs most — not because Ludwick or the characters she writes about are all tough-as-nails badasses, but because it’s just human instinct to survive. Usually in her songs, that means facing obstacles and fears head-on, but she’s not averse to a little escape now and then, either. In “Somethin’ Good,” the album’s most up-beat, defiantly exhuberant track, she flips the bird to love and all its baggage (“Why do we always have to need someone?/Tell me somethin’ good about love”) and chooses carefree, guitar-powered abandon instead: “Give me rock ’n’ roll, I want rock ’n’ roll until I die.” It may only offer fleeting relief in the big picture, but what a rush. — RICHARD SKANSE