My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: Tommy Conners

Album Review: Deryl Dodd – ‘RanDDom as I Am’

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″

Deryl warns,

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.

Grade: B+

Some hidden treasures of the decade

At the end of last year, I shared a list of my favorite 50 singles of the decade. Some of them were big hits, others more obscure, but at least in theory they got some attention at the time. Now that the decade is well and truly over, I thought I would mention some hidden treasures – album tracks that you probably only heard if you’re a fan of the artist, and purchased the full album. Some of them are from albums and artists that were more successful than others. I’ve omitted anything that made it to radio (even if it wasn’t a hit) as I considered those for my last list, and I have also left out anything from an album which made our collective Albums of The Decade list, although I have included tracks from other albums by artists who appeared on both of those lists. I have restricted my list to one track per artist named.

40. ‘Cold All The Time’ – Irene Kelley (from Thunderbird, 2004)
Songwriter Irene Kelley has released a couple of very good independent albums, showcasing her own very beautiful voice as well as her songs. This is a gently resolute song about a woman stuck in a bad relationship, summoning up the courage to make a move.

39. ‘All I Want’ – Darius Rucker (from Learn To Live, 2008)
There is still a chance that this might make it to the airwaves, as Darius’s platinum country debut is his current release. As a whole, the material was a little disappointing, but this great song is definitely worth hearing, and not only because it’s the mos country song on the album. It’s a jaundiced kiss-off to an ex, offering her everything as “all I want you to leave me is alone”.

38. ‘I Met Jesus In A Bar’ – Jim Lauderdale (from Country Super Hits Volume 1, 2006)
Songwriter Jim Lauderdale has released a number of albums of his own, in more than one country sub-genre, and in 2006 he issued two CDs on one day: one country, the other bluegrass. This great co-write with Leslie Satcher, a melancholy-tinged song about God and booze, also recorded by Aaron Watson, comes from the country one.

37. ‘A Train Not Running’ – Chris Knight (from The Jealous Kind, 2003)
Singer-songwriter Chris Knight co-wrote this downbeat first-person tale of love and a mining town’s economic failure with Stacy Dean Campbell, who also recorded a version of the song.

36. ‘Same Old Song’ – Blake Shelton (from Blake Shelton, 2001)
These days, Blake seems to attract more attention for his girlfriend Miranda Lambert and his Tweeting than for his own music. This song, written by Blake’s producer Bobby Braddock back in 1989, is an appeal for country songs to cover new ground and real stories.

35. ‘If I Hadn’t Reached For The Stars’ – Bradley Walker (from Highway Of Dreams, 2006)
It’s probably a sign of the times that Bradley Walker, who I would classify as a classic traditional country singer in the Haggard/Travis style, had to release his excellent debut album on a bluegrass label. This love song (written by Carl Jackson and previously recorded by Jon Randall) is all about finding happiness through not achieving stardom.

34. ‘Between The River And Me’ – Tim McGraw (from Let It Go, 2007)
Tim McGraw is not one of my favorite singers, but he does often have a knack for picking interesting material. It was a travesty that the best track on his 2007 album was never released as a single, especially when far less deserving material took its place. It’s a brooding story song narrated by the teenage son of a woman whose knack seems to be picking the wrong kind of man, in this case one who beats her. The son turns to murder, down by the river.

33. ‘Three Sheets In The Wind’ – Randy Archer (from Shots In The Dark, 2005)
In the early 9s, Randy Archer was one half of the duo Archer Park,who tried and failed to challenge Brooks & Dunn. His partner in that enterprise is now part of The Parks. Meanwhile, Randy released a very good independent album which has been overlooked. My favorite track is this sad tale of a wife tearing up a husband’s penitent note of apology and leaving regardless.

32. ‘It Looked Good On Paper’ – Randy Kohrs featuring Dolly Paton (from I’m Torn, 2007)
A forlorn lost-love ballad from dobro player Kohrs featuring exquisite high harmonies from Dolly. the ret o the record is very good, too – and you can listen to it all on last.fm.

31. ‘Mental Revenge’ – Pam Tillis (from It’s All Relative: Tillis Sings Tillis, 2002)
After her mainstream stardom wound down, 90s star Pam Tillis took the opportunity to record a real labor of love: a tribute album to her father Mel. This bitter diatribe to an ex is my favorite track.

30. ‘You Don’t Love God If You Don’t Love Your Neighbour’ – Rhonda Vincent (from The Storm Still Rages, 2001)
A traditional country-bluegrass-gospel quartet take on a classic rebuke to religious hypocrites, written by Carl Story. The track isn’t the best showcase of Rhonda’s lovely voice, but it’s a great recording of a fine song with a pointed message.

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