REVIEW: Rick Todd “Diesel Town”


Rick Todd – Diesel Town

A little late on the schedule but worthy of a listen is Amarillo, Texas-based Rick Todd who explores through his music the wonder & mystery of being alive, that’s it. In a nutshell. No hard sell. This new 9-cut album tells of tales drawn from the Empty Quarter of America. 

Rick Todd

A downer? Not at all. It’s an album that documents experiences. Todd goes Woody Guthrie with his songs about railroad bulls, wailing ghost ponies, wandering monks, Dust Bowl survivors, guitar-slinging pirates, road-worn pilgrims, broken lovers & those people worn down by the loss of hope & decay. Excellent descriptions by Todd himself of his intense songs. The expressive singer-songwriter (vocals/acoustic & electric guitars/mandolin/button accordion/bass/banjo/harmonica & keyboards) has been around the barn once or twice. 

The 9-track Diesel Town (Dropped July 1-Independent) was produced by Rick Todd & possesses songs that even the late Boxcar Willie would’ve considered covering. With charming melodies & upbeat lyrics that narrate travels, journeys & adventures that are always exploratory – the tunes have dust & mileage on them.


The title track “Diesel Town,” even has a percolating harmonica burst that enlivens the tune. Todd has a sincere singing voice, a Merle Haggard type of tonality with even better range than Willie Nelson. The band is not large but it’s tight & engaging on every piece. It’s not really country but more in line with being road songs. Some tunes have a vagabond texture, a loneliness in the melody, but the showcase has its own seasoning that keeps each song flavorful within its own genre. “Most Promising Officer” is quite catchy. 

Todd uses colorful language to describe his situation. But he captures imaginary locales in his melodies. These songs are not so much a toe-tapping, hand-clapping commercial as simply viable tales that allow a listener to stop & listen. There are some songs constructed more in the tradition of singer-songwriter John Hiatt than any mainstream country artist. Then from the comfort of that genre, Todd goes Tex-Mex with expressive tunes like “1931.”


But the music industry roosters & corporate mongrels seldom want songs that reach into the heart. They only want the dollar toe-tapping head-banging confections. Here today, gone tomorrow. What they don’t realize or understand is that songs like this stand a better chance of longevity. Not everyone who can sing & play well can write such short stories with melodies. 

Rick Todd is a musician who knows how to author an indulgent memorable tune.


Highlights – “Diesel Town,” “Most Promising Officer” & “1931.”

Musicians – Nate Todd (piano/organ/lap steel guitar), Matt Dwyer (dobro), Dan Rankins (pedal steel guitar), Eric Berg (acoustic guitar), Leon Lange (bass) & Danny “Freeze” Dobervich (harmonica).

Color photo courtesy of Sean Ramsey. CD @ Bandcamp &


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