Deryl Dodd is nothing short of a success story. He came into country stardom through the back door, singing backup for Martina McBride and playing guitar in Tracy Lawrence's band. Now ten years after his debut album, Dodd is a well-known contemporary country musician. He's been through hell and back, it seems, overcoming an acute case of viral encephalitis that left him bedridden for six months and in rehabilitation programs for more than a year. Full Circle is his fourth release since that hardship, following two LPs and one live album. It's a solid release with superb production quality and great hit potential. But things never seem to get easier for Dodd. Just before the release of Full Circle, a brand new trailer containing his band's equipment, as well as his official merchandise, was stolen in Ft. Worth, TX. In true Dodd spirit, however, the band kept truckin' and was able to replace some of the equipment thanks to fundraisers held by friends and fans. And the fans have Full Circle to thank them for their fundraising efforts. The album does not disappoint. It's well-rounded with plenty of honky tonk numbers and contemporary country love ballads -- all with a Southern rock twist. The mixture of styles will surely please the majority of those who come across Dodd's album, but it can be so polarized that it might seem awkward to some. Two upbeat honky tonk numbers will give way to one slow number, which will give way again to another upbeat song -- which can ruin the boisterous mood at times, no matter how well-written and well-executed the ballads are. For example, it would be easy for fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd to get into "I Won't Run" -- with its screamin' guitar solo and gritty rock vocals. But those same listeners might be turned off when the album takes a complete twist with lovesick songs like "Someone Is Waiting for Me."
Fans of contemporary country music will appreciate Dodd's devotion to his fans and his music, as well as his earnest delivery. Fans of honky tonk and traditional country will welcome the references to legendary Texas fiddle player Bob Wills, as well as Dodd's excellent grasp of the music. With lyrics like "I'm like wearin' a hole in a honky tonk floor/I like the feel of my heels slidin' over the boards/I like the music they play behind those swingin' doors," it's safe to say that "Wearin' a Hole" would have fit perfectly into Dwight Yoakam's Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. album. The same goes for "It's Only 'Cause You're Lonely." Both are neo-traditionalist honky tonk tunes, relying heavily on steel guitar, a fast-paced shuffle, and -- of course -- love gone wrong. "Into Outlaw" is a tribute to the outlaw country Dodd grew up listening to. "I saw her at the Dairy Queen with the captain of the football team/Brown hair fallin' on her shoulder just like Jessi Colter/Knew she was the one for me/Walked up and asked her out y'all/I said are you into outlaw." Intertwined throughout the album are opportunities for Dodd to exhibit his storytelling ability -- an important aspect to country music of all styles. "Solid Ground" tells of a middle-aged man who has lost his spirit to the daily grind of a thankless job. "Songs of the Family" is a good-hearted, nostalgic closing tune, chronicling Dodd's biggest childhood musical influence -- his family. Full Circle gives Dodd a chance to display his songwriting ability and his diversity as an artist. It's an album that's honest, fun, and at times touching without ever really taking itself too seriously. Dodd just wants his listeners to have a good time -- and they definitely will.