Tommy Womack – I Thought I Was Fine
Opening with “Pay It Forward,” a vocal treatment akin to Australia’s Flash & the Pan’s classic “Hey St. Peter,” from 1976 (Henry Vanda, George Young). If so, good, classy choice.
With this outing, local Nashville hero/survivor Tommy Womack (with 8 solo LPs so far) decided to forego the Americana-Roots route, travel a rawer rock path. Almost immediately the well-sculptured material sans nostalgia & line up little classics in a row like musical dominoes. That is if anyone will listen.
Womack flirts with cliches but he’s too clever & never settles into the pond of silliness with this showcase. On “Pay It Forward,” guitars dip into a Rolling Stones-Who tradition. There’s a rock distinction at work & it compliments Tommy.
A voice in a Willie Nile, Elliott Murphy, Dave Alvin style. Not as dark & NY-oriented as Nile, Womack has a rich crop — a satisfying harvest of rock tunes. “I Thought I Was Fine,” is not completely new but has authenticity.
I Thought I Was Fine (Drops Oct 15–Schoolkids Records) was produced by Tommy (rhythm, lead & bass guitars/harmonica) with Jonathan Bright (baritone, rhythm & bass guitars/drums/keys/ukulele/vocals). Lisa Oliver Gray (vocals).
13-songs of penetrating baby-boomer crunchola. “A Little Bit of Sex – Part 2” is slathered in Del-Lords gravy with a dash of The Dictators. Potent. Womack renders the music ageless. It’s not metal, it’s not Blue Oyster Cult. It holds the reins of Americana-Rock tight because it has, with its polish — garage-rock heart.
“I Got No Place To Go,” rings true. This song unfolds with the same visceral punch of the original Riviera’s “California Sun.” Excellent. Each song has its own attraction. Even the subtle dialogue of “Call Me Gary,” “The Story of Waymond & Lou” is Beat Generation cool.
Both readings are pure & well done. Womack is suited to the instrumentation. “That Lucky Old Sun,” is a slightly tepid tune but it’s how Womack’s constructed it that renders it charming with a Ramones guitar drive.
Tommy doesn’t sing with a powerful Elvis baritone or suave rockabilly of Robert Gordon. He has an Eric Ambel-Scott Kempner-Blasters tint. One of the best is “It’s All About Me,” a wonderful melody & it seems Womack saved some of the best songs for last. Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets,” is quite good.
A success? It’s a matter of how it’s marketed. I’m sure between radio’s endless Springsteen redundancy & “Eye of the Tiger” garbage they can slip a Womack rocker in-between. If not, like so many other things in this country, we’ll lose our rock heritage. No reason this can’t jar young ears glued to their iPhones or baby boomers combing their white hair.
Skimming along in a John Prine-Steve Goodman storyline is “I Wish I’d Known You Better,” — a beauty.
Cover photo: Scott Willis. The 39-minute CD: available @ Target + https://tommywomack.com/