It's no surprise to hear Charlie Robison describe his first release for Dualtone as "my favorite record that I've ever made, the one I've been wanting to make for a long, long time." False modesty has never been the style of this native Texan, known for saying what's on his mind and letting the chips fall where they may. Along the way, he's developed a reputation as brash and cocksure, a little ornery, a maverick within a country music industry that prefers artists who are easier to manage, package and promote.
No, the real surprise is the tone of Charlie's voice, the quiet confidence he exudes when he says "this is a culmination of the different styles I've explored, with more maturity in the writing." Where his breakthrough with 1998's Life of the Party album spotlighted the more raucous and reckless side of Robison, and 2000's "Right Man for the Job" single was pure swagger, Good Times is the work of a reflective artist, one whose music has more depth and range than ever. It's the music of the family man he's become, not the party boy he's been.
"A lot can change in a few years," explains Robison. "When I made my last studio record (Step Right Up in 2000), I was very much a newlywed, a little over a year being married, and we didn't have our son. Then you have a child and your marriage reaches a more mature state-it's still really great, but the honeymoon's over. You're talking about the future and being an adult. While 95% of me is still the same old guy, I'm a father and a veteran husband now. Whether or not you're consciously trying to put that on the record-which I wasn't-if you're an introspective person at all it's going to make its way on there."
With a dedication that reads "for Emily, my star, and Gus, my son," the album finds its inspiration in the life Robison has come to love since marrying the former Emily Erwin of the Dixie Chicks and fathering Charles Augustus Robison, who'll turn two years old this fall ("Gus" after a favorite literary characters, from Larry McMurtry's classic Texas epic, Lonesome Dove). When they're not in the midst of balancing dual musical careers, Charlie and Emily Robison are more concerned with baling hay, raising cattle and training quarter horses on their spread outside Bandera, where Robison's family has ranched for eight generations since the 1840s.