Tommy Womack

Circus Town

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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

In an era where the Regular Guy has either been ferreted out of rock & roll or turned so earnest as to be practically unrecognizable, it's good to have someone like Tommy Womack around. Womack (who previously worked with the bands Government Cheese and the Bis-Quits) writes rock & roll songs about everyday stuff -- falling in love, trying to stay in love, life's ups and downs of all shapes and sizes -- with good humor, a strong dose of common sense, and the smarts to understand when this stuff is funny and when it isn't. Womack also knows when and where to use the right three chords, and his third solo album, Circus Town, faces rough-and-ready roots rock up against country-leaning midtempo ballads, and comes up with a set of 11 winners. "Fake It 'Til You Make It" is a funny song about a job gone wrong, "You Could Be at the Beach Right Now, Little Girl" is the sad and evocative tale of a college flunk-out, "We Can't Do This Anymore" is a sweet but potent cheatin' song, teenage romance gone wrong rears its head in "Nancy Dunn" and "Sleeping with Cecelia," carnies wait out the off season on the title cut, and Womack gives his all-time favorite band a long and richly detailed shout-out on "The Replacements." The presence of the latter song begs comparisons to Paul Westerberg, and while one might argue that these days the former leader of the 'Mats writes more from his head than his heart, Womack shows it's possible to use both at the same time, and in Womack's hands the results are winning. (It certainly doesn't hurt that he has some top-shelf help in the studio, including Will Rigby, Will Kimbrough, and Bill Lloyd.) Funny when he wants to be, heartfelt when he needs to be, and playing like he means it in both high and low gears, Tommy Womack proves that he may be a regular guy, but he's no ordinary Joe, on Circus Town. Points added for the hidden track, which finds Tommy's entrepreneurial instincts dovetailing with his annoyance over drug testing in the workplace.

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