It's convenient, but only somewhat accurate, to compare Tommy Womack to his friends and slightly better-known musical cohorts Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough. The singer/songwriter's fifth solo release comes four years and a nervous breakdown after his last disc, and that sobering experience, along with joining the eight-to-five rat race to make ends meet after assuming his music career was finished, informs the tone and especially the lyrics on this comeback. "I'm 43 now, my hair is going, I've got a shaky sense of self esteem," laments Womack on the folk ballad "Nice Day," and that pretty much sums up this renewed chapter in his career. Thankfully, Womack is too smart, self-deprecating, and witty to wallow in self-pity. His words define and refine a dry humor that balances depression, sometimes literally as in "Too Much Month at the End of the Xanex," and a somewhat shaky belief that life will work out all right. It's a tricky tightrope act, but Womack pulls it off through good to excellent country-folk-rockers and an everyman voice that hits the right emotional notes. Few singer/songwriters could pull off a stream-of-consciousness-styled life story such as "Alpha Male & the Canine Mystery Blood" -- which mixes a post-9/11 world-view, a discussion of weird band names, religion, and his life -- with such casual honesty and unpretentious irony. Credit some of this album's success to producer John Deaderick, who frames these songs with the perfect mixture of bluesy, shambling folk, rock, and country. He keeps the focus on Womack's lyrics while surrounding him with a rootsy Americana that seems effortless. These tunes shimmer with songwriting so sharp, lyrically full, and intelligent that the logical response is to play the album over again to catch what you might have missed before. And each time you learn a little more about Womack as a human being and an artist, to the point that you seem to have read his diary. There aren't many performers who can write music with that kind of integrity while keeping the listener involved -- and even riveted -- in someone else's experiences. Maybe it's because listeners see a bit of themselves in Tommy Womack's reflection.
AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz