The name Woody Russell summons images of a man sitting in a musky old bar on a wooden stool with his guitar, singing and telling stories. While this image may not be the most flattering, it certainly puts things into proper perspective in the sense that the artist is as down to earth and original as the setting pictured in my minds eye. Although it may not sound like a compliment, it most certainly is in the most endearing sense of the word from my perspective.
I really enjoyed the voyage Russell took me on through the fourteen tracks on his new CD Salt. I heard a cross section of sounds and flavors throughout this delightful disc. Russell has a down earth emotive vocal style that is sincere and warm. He is first and foremost a storyteller, and a very talented one that happens to sing, play guitar, banjo, and handle some percussion and loops to round out his musical multi tasking.
I love the rhythmic sense, humor, and irony of "Parts and Labor." "It’ll only you cost you parts and labor, to get that thing up and running, could be your soul or your carburetor." It does not take a scholar to figure out he is singing about a lot more than a car, just a sensitive human being actually listening to the music and words. I found the slice of dark humor with the comparison of a mechanical object to a human soul interesting. Every track has its own unique storyline accompanied by the appropriate music whether it is get-down-in-the-mud blues or folk and Americana, the entire package is wrapped just so to make the message clear. Like the title track emotes - "She is the roots to my tree, the salt in my sea" - the words are prolific and expressed with sincerity.
Each track has enough impact to make you think about the words; soak in all the music whilst anticipating the next song. Songs that have a longing about them, much like the whistle of steam driven train off in the distance, such as the short instrumental "Dog Dreams." It makes you see an endless horizon in the Midwest, or think about a long lost friend, whatever comes to mind, the bottom line is this music works on you and gets you emotional. A job well done Mr. Russell, you are an original artist greatly appreciated by this listener.