This new album from Bob Woodruff is only his fourth in a 22-year recording career and it’s a fine statement as to what patience and skill in songwriting can do. Although he’s a New York City native, this album was recorded in Sweden and sounds more like it comes straight out of Nashville. A clean, crisp production with a big, radio friendly sound helps lift this collection of songs up even higher, considering the quality of the songs already do this.
Wryly titled The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain, the maudlin nature of the title belies some of the joyful and uplifting melodies that shape this record. The album’s opening track, “I Didn’t Know” is bouncy and catchy, primed to come screaming out of radios; “I’m The Train”, with its very fine-tuned Rickenbacker 12-string chiming sound and sweeping pedal steel lines reminds me of a Tom Petty-oriented tune (and lo – Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench appears on this album!) and the title track is a pure country kicker – dark, pain and perspective filled lyrics (“…put me out of your misery, where I almost drowned…”) wrapped in a beautiful and buoyant melody.
“There’s Something There” has a very Memphis feel – soulful, warm and embracing; “Bayou Girl” hits all the right flavors of that New Orleans-kind of feel – swampy sounding, boogie-ing piano fills, funky/get down and damn, if he doesn’t sound a little like Alex Chilton with his vocals; “What Is Heaven” is big and bold and could easily be a hit (!) and “Stand In The Way” is another upbeat twanger that has a classic sound and a spot-on vocal.
Eleven excellent tracks that deserve a good, long, thoughtful listen. Hopefully, you and others will agree with this, because it, indeed, should be heard by all. It’s hard to deliver a complete package with so much and Bob Woodruff has done just that.
The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain will be released Friday, February 19th, 2016