Real Country Music
3 out of 5
Together Again, Back To The Honky Tonks, You’re Not Lookin For, Life Behind Bars, Death Taxes And Texas, Things You Don’t Know, Beer And The Belly, It Don’t Take Much, Lost Highways, All I Know, I’ll Fly Away, John The Revelator, (Bonus Track: Home For Christmas)
Producers: Deryl Dodd
Smith Entertainment 7126
In 1996, I heard Deryl Dodd covering Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got to
“Together Again”, the Buck Owens classic, starts the Smith disc. Dodd’s somewhat bluesy version, is interesting, in that it reminds me that such classic songs can at times be done differently and still manage to be good.
This “bar band blues” marks the Dodd penned “Back to the Honky Tonks” and “Death Taxes and
10 of the 13 tracks on the release were written or co-written by Dodd. Many sound as though they are exercises in craftsmanship. Which is not necessarily a bad thing but it can be a bit distracting when you want to assess the record. Does an artist want the listener to think of someone else while listening to their release? I would think not, but maybe some do. A songwriter, I think would not mind as much. So, I am left to discuss the rest of the Dodd penned tracks by mentioning those for whom they may been written.
“You’re Not Lookin For” might be at home on a Pat Green album or a Restless Heart Reunion album. It has that middle of the road soft rock feel that some like in their country. I remember dancing to stuff like this in the early 90’s in clubs, not honky tonks. (The ladies did like them some Restless Heart.) Similar things can be said about “It Don’t Take Much”. I wouldn’t be surprised if it appears on an upcoming Darius Rucker release. Ditto for “All I Know”.
“Life Behind Bars” is probably the most traditional cut on the album. In this he sings that “he has seen it all living his life behind bars”. I figured out that it’s sung from the perspective of a bartender rather quickly, and without being told. So, pretty obvious, but I am sure Joe Diffie is looking for a new song. But if Diffie wants the best of the lot, he should pick “
“Things You Don’t Know” (....unless you’re a cowboy) will be picked up sooner or later by a Strait wannabe. Again it’s not bad, slightly obvious, and waits for a better version.
Speaking of Strait, is he due another Christmas record? If so, he might want to hear “Home for Christmas”. Who would have thought I would appreciate the “ho ho ho home for Christmas” bit found in this song?
Now that I have assisted with song placement, I can discuss the remaining tracks. “I’ll Fly Away” is the same song that is known all too well by anyone that has ever been around church folks. Dodd does a nice job of it and it shows the charm of being recorded live in the studio. Nice of Dodd also to reminisce about his childhood by including his grandparents 1959 recorded live performance of “John The Revelator”.
Now about the remaining track “Beer and the Belly”, I think the lyrics speak for themselves ... “you can love a dog even though it’s smelly and an ice cold beer is worth the belly”.
So, for the album as a whole, I say that it stands mostly as a calling card for his writing. Now about his writing, it is, as I mentioned before, sometimes obvious, but it’s not bad.
“Home For Christmas”, “