july 2009

Really, Who Is Your Daddy?

By Billy Altman

Cedar Creek

What do you get when you take two exceptionally talented Nashville-based singer/songwriter/guitarists who've been around the ranch long enough to know that any music not immediately suitable for marketing-propelled pigeonholing is likely best created and shared more for the joy than the jingle? You get Daddy, the rollicking new (addled) brainchild of Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack, who first teamed up back in the early '90s with their already-out-the-back-door Bis-Quits (get it?) and, a good decade and a half of stomping around the alt.country/roots-rock scene later, are still the kind of brothers-in-arms any musical true believer would be proud to go into battle with.

Kimbrough, probably best known for his work as an in-demand session and touring guitarist (Rodney Crowell, Kim Richey, Steve Forbert, Billy Joe Shaver, among others) and Womack, a onetime post-punker (Government Cheese) who, having embraced his inner yeehaw, has twice won the Nashville Scene Magazine's Best Song Award, are a uniquely complementary team. Their individual writing and singing styles would seem fairly separate: Womack leans more towards Dylanesque wordplay and Rolling Stones blues-rock, while Kimbrough is more of a character/ story songweaver steeped in Southern rock and blue-eyed soul. Yet they meet through their humor as lyricists and their shared love of good old-fashioned swamp-bred guitar riffs, and as amply evidenced throughout this album, the result is an infectiously good time for all concerned.

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Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack on tour, 2007, pre-Daddy but suitably twisted

Speaking of infectious, and for about as good an example of just why Daddy works as well as it does, check out Womack's "Love In A Bottle." Anchored by a guitar line that would make Tony Joe White chomp with envy, Womack warbles an utterly goofy, and utterly irresistible, ode to amour that begins thusly: "If I could put my love for you in a bottle and sell it from town to town/There'd be a decrease in infectious diseases and the crime rate would go down." Or perhaps try Kimbrough's Bo Diddley-by-way-of-the Dixie Cups "Wash and Fold," another ode to, well, to the ever-romantic atmosphere of the all-night laundromat. ("I've been blowin' bubbles at the launderette/I'll show you just how clean a man can get/ Rub 'n' scrub until we're soakin' wet/ blowin' bubbles at the launderette.")

With the able assistance of its flexible, making-it-sound-easy rhythm section (John Deaderick on keyboards, Dave Jacques on bass, and Paul Griffith on drums), Daddy covers a tremendous amount of ground on numerous levels. There's Womack's commencement speech hoot "Early To Bed, Early to Rise," which advises graduates to do just that if they want to succeed in the real world—and, while they're at it, "work like a dog, and advertise," as well as his stream-of-consciousness funkbuster "I Went to Heaven In A Dream Last Night" ("God gave names to all the vitamins/All the minerals and rivers, and Rin Tin Tin"). Meanwhile, Kimbrough paints a detailed portrait of small town life on "Nobody From Nowhere," neatly evoking both it dead- and open-endedness, and touchingly philosophizes about higher meanings in the acoustic, "Prodigal Son"-vibed "Redemption Is The Mother's Only Son."

All in all, quite a memorable little endeavor, this Daddy thing. Neither Kimbrough nor Womack seem to have given up their respective solo careers, but given how well they click together, here's hoping they keep a-procreatin' as Daddys for a nice, long time. Because boy, does country music need stuff like this to keep itself honest.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024