Alex Woodard

Mile High

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In the '90s and 2000s, the singer/songwriter field has been largely female. Think of the major singer/songwriters who hit big in the Bill Clinton or George W. Bush years, and the names are mostly female -- names like Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch, Lisa Loeb, and Nelly Furtado. But mostly female doesn't mean exclusively female, and there are plenty of talented male singer/songwriters out there as well -- you just have to know where to find them. One is Alex Woodard, whose third full-length album, Mile High, is a solid roots rock effort that draws on influences ranging from Dave Matthews (minus Matthews' more experimental leanings) to Tom Petty, Marc Cohn, Bruce Springsteen, and Cat Stevens. Woodard isn't an innovator, but the gruff-voiced San Diego resident is an expressive, accessible performer who has a knack for very tuneful songs. That tunefulness serves Woodard as well on "Wonderful" and "Take Good Care" as it does on "Steps," "Blood Salt and Silver," "Breathing," and "Invitation" (not to be confused with the haunting Bronislaw Kaper standard, which has been recorded by countless jazz improvisers over the years). While Woodard wrote or co-wrote everything on Mile High, the producing and engineering was handled by Pete Droge of the Thorns -- and Droge is smart enough to make the disc sound well produced but not overproduced. Mile High isn't very generous by CD standards; the album clocks in at a mere 37 minutes. But if Mile High falls short in terms of quantity, Woodard certainly doesn't skimp on quality on this 2004 recording.

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