Bob Woodruff

Desire Road

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With a change of record labels, Woodruff returns with a strong follow-up to his 1994 debut, Dreams and Saturday Nights. Taking a decidedly more roots rock and pop approach in the production, these songs are still more country than most of the modern stuff, and Desire Road isn't likely to alienate anyone who was grabbed by Woodruff's excellent debut. Hook-laden melodies abound, driven along with jangly 12-string guitars that still have a lot of meat to them and merge a Beatles/Byrds melodic sense with a Creedence-like earthiness. In fact, the album kicks off with Fogerty's "Almost Saturday Night," a country-rockified version that doesn't have too far to stretch. Woodruff continues with potent original songs, such as "That Was Then," a song about an aging musician who just has to keep playing, which sounds like a continuation of the character he introduced with "Hard Liquor, Cold Women, Warm Beer," the unforgettable song from his first album. "All That Love Has Worn Away" takes a delicious guitar figure à la British Invasion and sets it off against a Spanish-sung chorus with an intoxicating melody, which makes the song as wonderfully unusual as it is compelling. Throw in a couple of Arthur Alexander R&B gems (including "Everyday I Have to Cry" and "If It's Really Got to Be This Way") handled with loving care, and you have a record you'll want to visit again and again.

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