Nell Robinson – On The Brooklyn Road

Nell Robinson - On The Brooklyn RoadNELL ROBINSON
ON THE BROOKLYN ROAD
Red Level
No Number

Nell Robinson is the stage name of Hilary Perkins, and this is her second CD on which Nell performs with many of the best musicians in the West: John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Tony Marcus, Chad Manning, Laurie Lewis (who co-wrote “Wahatchee” with Nell), Rob Ickes, Keith Little, her partner in the Henriettas, Cary Sheldon, and too many more to list. There are two bonus tracks from the Henriettas. Jim Nunally co-produced with Nell, and in addition to being a Jaybird, Jim co-writes, sings, and plays guitar on several tracks. Nell also includes stories told by her relatives in the South interspersed among the 21 tracks. The stories do not bear listening over and over.

When she sings, Nell has a warm, bouncy voice that reminds this reviewer a bit of Iris Dement. She opens with “Woe Is Me,” which is a sort of upbeat gospel song about suffering. Next is Richard Brandenburg’s “Mayflies,” which is about the fast fading of love. “Red Clay Creek” is based on a family story about a slave mother drowning her children. “Don’t Light My Fire” is a Cajun-style duet with Jim about avoiding unreliable love. “I’m Brilliant” is about alcoholic denial. “Wahatchee” is based on another family story from the Revolutionary War. Next comes a series of covers, Loretta Lynn’s “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” “Turn Your Radio On,” “The Last Old Shovel,” and “Sweet Sunny South.” The Henriettas do “Crawdad Song” and “Big Ball In Texas.”

This recording has grown on me with repeated listening, except that I could do without the story tracks. I think Nell is still developing as a songwriter, but this recording documents well where she is in 2011. (Hearth Music, 14879 6th Ave. NE, Shoreline, WA 98155, www.nellrobinsonmusic.com.) SAG

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