Artist: Tommy Womack
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 06/24/2016
Think of the iconic singer/songwriter albums, and names like Dylan and Prine invariably come to mind. Their best works tell engaging stories, cynically comment on topical and political issues and describe both love and life struggles with a unique mix of humorous and seriously poignant lyrics. Tommy Womack has just delivered one such masterful singer/songwriter album. And, like those singers, it’s not the voice that draws you in, but rather the songs. They seem simple on the surface, but they are indelibly well-crafted.
It’s amazing that he’s still here after an almost devastating car accident in 2015, a near heart attack in 2007 and getting clean after years of addiction. So, when he sings songs like “End of the Line” and “I Almost Died,” he’s revealing his own harrowing tales. At the same time, Womack can make us laugh like few others can. “Comb-over Blues” is a light-hearted take on baldness while “Hot Flash Woman” speaks to menopause and “When Country Singers Were Ugly” puts into words what many of us were thinking at the time.
Death and religion seem to be the predominant themes. After all, the title Namaste is a respectful form of greeting in Hindu custom. In “God Part III,” ground covered by John Lennon and U2, Womack takes a historical view of Jesus rather than a holy view as the recurring chorus says, “My Daddy was a preacher and so am I/I believe in God but now and then I wonder why/I choose to picture Jesus in the clouds up above/I believe in Beatles. I believe in love.” He includes a live take of his Beat poetry inspired “Nashville,” wherein he cleverly sums up the endearing and annoying qualities of the city as only the best stand-up comic could.
Viewing the cover photograph, you see Womack’s head bowed with hands together seemingly in prayer, giving thanks with a contented facial expression. These feelings are expressed in the closer, “It’s a Beautiful Morning.” Womack says, “God likes prayers that are basically like a thank-you note, being grateful for what you’ve got. A lot of prayers I’ve offered in my years were more like obscene phone calls or ransom notes.” Womack has plenty of friends who helped him get back on his feet. Let’s hope “Beautiful Morning” and this terrific album signal a new beginning and a sustained period of quality work. It’s great to have Womack back.
– Jim Hynes