When Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis sing together, you feel a tightening around your heart and your throat. Your eyes blink a few extra times and you pretend the cedar is bothering you again. That sinking in your gut is the same intuitive feeling you have when your wife’s phone rings and she hesitates before answering. The one you have when your husband starts going to the gym and putting on cologne again.
I’m talking about cheating. Some singers can sell it and some can’t. Bruce and Kelly have been married for 16 years and their first album together is called Cheater’s Game. They know cheating. They know how to sing about it, at least, that’s for sure.
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis have finally teamed up for an album. Country music has needed a dueting country couple for a long time now. Conway and Tammy are dead and Loretta and George were left solo. Sure, Faith and Tim can SING together, but, somehow, it really isn’t a country duet. And Bruce and Kelly can sing a country duet without it being a parody of a country duet.
Kelly sings, “I’m not ashamed of being afraid of losing you. What more can I lose, but it’s a cheater’s game, you’re just breaking me down when I’m broken in two, is that so easy to do? I get it, it’s plain to see, every way that she ain’t me.” Yes, it’s the scary side of being cheated ON that they sing about, not cheating, per se.
I could tell you all about Bruce Robison’s songwriting credits (he certainly will go into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame for the emotion of “Travelin’ Soldier” alone) or Kelly Willis’ Americana creds and her rockabilly days in Nashville before coming to Austin. If you know their history, you’ve probably already invested in their first project as a couple. If you don’t know them, you are in for an emotional roller coaster with the sad songs like the classic “9,999,999 Tears” and sweet Texas standard “No Kinda Dancer” written by Robert Earl Keen.
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis released Cheater’s Game on Valentine’s Day. Don’t cry in your next beer without it on your jukebox.
– Submitted by Janice Williams, Music Design
Spot on. Both Bruce and Kelly sing with an emotional sincerity that is a rare pleasure —