Deryl Dodd’s eighth album is released on Texas music specialists Smith Music Group, and is produced by the artist himself. His distinctive nasal tones work well interpreting the material, almost all self-written, and this record has a little more of a Texas/Red Dirt singer-songwritery feel than his previous work.
I really enjoyed the amusing self-mocking ‘Baby Where’s My Bottle’. The semi-alcoholic honky tonker compares himself to a baby, throwing a fit when his sweetheart has taken his bottle of booze away. The entertaining up-tempo honky tonker opens the album with a bang, and is also serving as the first single.
The melancholic ‘Loveletters’ (one of the few outside songs, written by Nate Kipp) has a pretty tune, with the protagonist addressing Virginia, an old love who has left him for an attempt at movie career. He wishes her well but has been unable to drag himself away from the ties of home to follow her:
Love letters and cigarettes
It’s been three years I can’t forget
Unwrap this chain around my neck for good
I’ve memorized every word you wrote and each night they go up in smoke
And I’m gonna die or I’m gonna choke, it’s true
I’m still not done with you
The highlight of the album is ‘Losin’ Ground’, a co-write with his one-time producer Brett Beavers, offers a gripping picture of an embattled farmer who is literally losing land to new highways. Also on a rural theme, ‘FM 2213’ (written by Tommy Conners and D Vincent Williams) paints a pleasantly atmospheric if rather rambling picture of a remote flatland country road.
‘Anybody Out There’ has a singer-songwriter feel. The mellow tune belies the lyric’s portrayal of depression and loneliness, with the protagonist wondering if anyone else has experienced the same feelings.
Fallin’ is a bit dull, repetitive lyrically and limited melodically, but there are better takes on romance on offer. ‘I Can Do This (Joy’s Song)’ is a tender love song with a fine vocal interpretation. Deryl’s own ‘Love Around Here’ is a charming but fairly conventional (and presumably autobiographical) picture of happy domestic life. The pretty, touching ‘Coming Home To You is a personal-sounding love song from a musician on the road missing his wife. Another travelling musician gets an unhappy ending, as his wife tells him he’s been gone ‘One Night Too Long’ in another of the highlights.
Defiant post-heatbreak, the protagonist of the bluesy ‘Somethin’ Ain’t Always Better Than Nothin’, declares,
I’d rather have nothin’ than somethin’ like you
‘Can’t Say No To Larry Joe’ with its raucous singalong pays tribute to a friend with exceptional persuasive powers – particularly when it comes to extending the night’s drinking, so that his
“Let’s just have one more” turns into 22″
The best advice I can give is never say hello
Cause you can’t say no to Larry Joe
The record closes with ‘Who Am I’, a rather good humble gospel song.
Overall, this is a solid record, a world away from current radio tastes, but worth a hearing.