photo: raymond goodman, 2009
Full disclosure: I’m putting this record out on my label, Red River Records.
I wanted to mention that first to ensure that you’re aware we’re not trying to pull a fast one on you here. I also wanted to mention it because it’s relevant to this review. I started Red River Records because of this record. Being burnt out on letting other people be responsible for my success or failure, my intent was simply to put out my own records – and only my own records – for the forseeable future. The best laid plans, right>
During the sessions for Nowhere Nights, Eric Ambel passed me a copy of Mylow and, listening to it, I thought it was absolutely criminal that Chip didn’t have a label to put this record out. I decided then that Red River Records was going to be a home not just for my records, but for records I loved that were in danger of not seeing the light of day without a little help. Mylow planted that seed, and putting this record out is something I’m immensely proud to be a part of.
Mylow is as raw a record as I have ever heard; honest, unflinching, and unwavering. This is the sound of a man who had to write these songs because he couldn’t keep them inside any longer. There is absolutely no way to listen to Mylow and not be made to feel at least a little bit uncomfortable with just how bare Robinson has laid himself – and his characters – in these songs. In that regard, Mylow is one of the more painful records I’ve ever heard, but painful in a way that conveys the naked inspiration that gripped Robinson, and painful in a way that will grip you and refuse to loosen the hold until the record stops spinning.
As frontman of the Backsliders, one of the seminal bands of the “alt.country” movement of the mid-90’s, Robinson cut himself a reputation as a songwriter whose mammoth hooks were as arresting as his lyricism, and that talent is on full display on Mylow, from the rough and ragged, three-chord knockout punches (“Mylow,” “Beesting,”) to the plaintive ruminations on regret and repentance (“Started,” “Wishin on the Cars”). You’re left to wonder exactly how much or Robinson went in to making this record, and exactly how much is left after such an astonishing collection.
Knowing Chip, there’s plenty left in the tank for round two but for now, I’m content to keep Mylow on repeat and revel in the return of a master craftsman. I highly recommend you do the same.