Cheater's Game

Cheater's Game

by Kelly Willis


Item is available through our marketplace sellers and in stores.


Cheater's Game

Neither Kelly Willis nor her husband Bruce Robison has made a record since 2008. The singer/songwriters both took time off the road and from recording to raise children. While they've appeared on one another's recordings before, Cheater's Game is their first album as a duo. Produced by Brad Jones and recorded in Nashville, this 13-song set features seven new Robison tunes. The balance is made up of songs by some contemporary songwriters, and a couple from Nashville legends. Recorded with a small band in an intimate, retro, '70s style; the album is warm, inviting, and features a seamless meld of the duo's voices. The title cut opener is the only Robison co-write; his collaborators are Liz Foster and Savannah Welch of the Trishas. Issued as the album's pre-release single, "Cheater's Game," is a classic, late-night, country torch song introduced by Willis' contralto accompanied by a low-key pedal steel, fiddle, shuffling snare, and acoustic guitars. Robison joins her on the chorus, making the tune reminiscent of the vibe created by Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. It's followed by a looser, more rootsy backporch duet on Dave Alvin's "Border Radio." There's a deep lonesome read of Hayes Carll's "Long Way Home," with Willis up front opening the vein of regret wide and true. Robison's lead on Don Williams' "We're All the Way" takes the sweetness out of the original to reveal its poignancy. The wide-open near-bluegrass ramble of "Leavin'' is one of Robison's finest road songs. A big surprise is the fiddle-driven take on Razzy Bailey's stellar "9,999,999 Tears," with Willis in superb honky tonk form. "Born to Roll" showcases the couple's love of pumping, roots-trucker-rockabilly and their ability to pull it off. The only cut that doesn't work here is their version of Robert Earl Keen's country waltz, "No Kinda Dancer." In the grain of Robison's voice, the lyric becomes too nostalgic -- though the refrains work beautifully, as does the tuba interlude. The sparse and beautiful "Waterfall" is one of the finest duet love songs to come down the Americana pipe. It's answered by "Dreamin," an old-school, country torch song drenched in yearning. Cheater's Game is an excellent welcome back. It's organic, relaxed, unforced approach is deceptively high in performance skill, yet resonates with an emotional depth that rings true throughout. The listener can only hope they do this again soon.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/12/2013
Label: Thirty Tigers
UPC: 0794504790931
catalogNumber: 499093

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kelly Willis   Primary Artist
Bruce Robison   Acoustic Guitar
Fred Eltringham   Drums
Pete Finney   Banjo
Mickey Grimm   Percussion
Lex Price   Bass
Dave Jaques   Bass,Tuba
Chris Scruggs   Drums
Eamon McLaughlin   Fiddle,Cello,Mando
Brad Jones   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Piano,Keyboards

Technical Credits

Don Williams   Composer
Kelly Willis   Package Concept,Booking
Dave Alvin   Composer
Razzy Bailey   Composer
Robert Earl Keen   Composer
Davis McLarty   Booking
Bruce Robison   Composer,Booking
Miles Zuniga   Composer
Hayes Carll   Composer
Jedd Hughes   Composer
Chris Kro   Graphic Design,Illustrations
Brad Jones   Producer,Loop
Liz Foster   Composer
Savannah Welch   Composer
Mike Crowley   Package Concept
Lawrence Shoberg   Composer
Clint Wiley   Booking

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews