Forty Years Late Music
Langston Hughes asked: What happens to a dream deferred? In the case of vocalist Kim Robins, the dream was set aside, but never abandoned, and has now re-emerged as her debut recording featuring seven of her originals, a couple of standards, and three others. The title track, a bouncy and traditional autobiographical original, describes it all.
Robins has a pleasant voice, somewhat dry and somewhat matter-of-fact. In some ways, she recalls Sarah Pirkle, though she doesn’t display here any of the high wailing notes that Pirkle hits. Her liner notes indicate a great love for Connie Smith’s singing, and though she doesn’t sound a dead ringer for her, you can hear hints, as well as a fondness for country music. Robins makes a nod to both artists, honoring Smith by covering her 1970s hit “I’ve Got My Baby On My Mind,” and to country music by penning a weeper number in the classic style, “Heartache And Regret” (underscored with twin fiddles from Michael Cleveland). “Can’t You Hear Me Calling,” on the other hand, reflects the impact Bill Monroe has had on her. The only other standard is “The Last Thing On My Mind.” Her version, a back-and-forth duet with guitarist/vocalist Jeff Guernsey, is more uptempo than most, but comes off well.
As a whole, the recording also comes off well. With the exception of the contemporary tone of Jerry Salley’s “It’s Me Again,” the lean of the music is decidedly traditional bluegrass and is nicely varied in feel and tempo and well-supported by, among others, Cleveland, Guernsey, and banjoist Butch Robins. As a songwriter, Robins shows a nice turn of phrase here and there and a good ear for melody, while in other places, she reveals that she’s still developing her craft. We should all be so fortunate after waiting forty years. (Forty Years Late Music, P.O. Box 116, Clear Creek, IN 47426, www.kimrobins.com.)BW