If it's true that the third time's the charm, then this Comanche, Texas, native and son and grandson of Pentecostal preachers should kickstart his stalled career with the 2002 release of Pearl Snaps (Lucky Dog). The singer-songwriter and former Martina McBride guitar player has certainly been through quite a country song-style wringer. First came a divorce and self-described spiritual and emotional conflicts following the release of his debut in 1996. Then, after his second album, a life-threatening bout with viral encephalitis (brain swelling) left him bedridden for six months. But Pearl Snaps, featuring mostly new tunes with a few re-released tracks, is a solid and welcome comeback.
Highlights include the jaunty title tack "Honky Tonk Champagne," a wryly humorous "Cows" (complete with Houston references), and covers of Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis" and even Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown." Unfortunately, Dodd does take the occasional side trip into mawkish cowboy sentimentality ("What Some Call a Weakness"). But what sets Dodd apart from the current crop of bland, frat-boy-friendly Texas troubadours are the solid songwriting skills that pack this album with clever wordplay, memorable melodies and hooks galore. His clear, country-pop inflected voice is also an asset. And even if some of his characters are hoary clichés (the old rodeo rider of "One Ride in Vegas"; the weekend honky-tonkers and various broken hearts elsewhere), Dodd and his co-writers add enough lyrical twists to make them seem fresh. Barring any new kink, Deryl Dodd might finally fulfill that early promise.
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