Out of These Blues

Yes, Robyn Ludwick has famous Americana-ish brothers and/or sisters-in-law (Is a sister-in-law who’s an ex to a brother still a sister to a gal? I’m guessing so). In any event, it’s time to stop holding those familial facts against her. Because with Out of These Blues, her third release since 2005, Ludwick finally steps out of the huge shadows the Robison boys from Bandera cast and proves she’s the realest of deals. In fact, she may well be the best songwriter of the clan. These aren’t beer-guzzling, frat-boy slur-along-songs or sappy love ballads to the perfect mate;  these are songs of the hard truths of messy lives and the endless Hobson’s choices the lovelorn and unlucky confront. It’s there in the echos of a quick slam-bam, thank you, ma’am one-night-stand in a truck stop-motel room on the title track (“Love won’t come and love don’t wait/but what makes me crazy are those out-of-state plates/see I never knew when to hold on, but I sure know when to let go/baby that’s just the way that I roll.”) Then, on “Steady,” with its “Don’t Let Me Down” Billy Preston vibe, she tells another lover, “Don’t tell me you’ll wait, cuz I won’t need you tomorrow/Please tell me you’ll stay here all night.”) And on “Fight Song,” she tauts the man who’s doing her wrong with “I’ll take it off, baby, let it fall to the floor, and you can love me all night through that crack in the door.” One can imagine Gurf Morlix licking his producer chops upon first hearing these songs, and he’s given them his magic touch with assists from Ian MacLagan, Trish Murphy and Slaid Cleaves. But it’s Ludwick’s unvarnished voice that is the instrumental tool Morlix seems to use most effectively, and together, the two find unique ways on every track to bring out these raw, honest and blue songs their soul and essence. — GLEASON BOOTH