Deryl Dodd,
Stronger Proof
(Dualtone, 2004)

Stronger Proof by singer-songwriter Deryl Dodd is a fine example of "good" country. It's fun, catchy, easily accessible and crafted with a good bit of meaning and intention. (Not too much to the point of being tiresome, but just enough to make it a step above the emptiness found in most popular country music offerings.) The title track leads by example, providing a good whiskey-drinking song loaded with double entendres.

The initial track, "Never Again," is a two-stepping yarn about two-timing and no more chances. "Somethin' Ain't Always Better (Than Nothin')" is bound to become a break-up anthem for sour relationships everywhere. "More of the Same" has a toe-tapping rhythm and a brisk pace in a George Strait style. "Let Me Be" is an ode to independence with great guitars in a straight-up country-fried Southern rock attack.

Besides a high entertainment factor, each of Dodd's original songs offer some deeper emotional themes (if you're looking) without beating you over the head with it. In other words, if you want it, it's there. If you don't, then simply enjoy. It's not all original tracks -- there is one very nice cover of Kenny Rogers's "Life or Something Like It." No, it's not as good as the original, but it would certainly have a crowded room on its feet.

In a show of humility and gratitude, Dodd ends the album with "The Crowd," a love letter/tribute to his fans. This song's somber yet sincere theme is echoed with a distinctive fiddle that weaves throughout the vocals and accompanying instruments. Instead of being saccharine and predictable, Dodd has crafted a tightly written, appropriate and emotional "thank you" to his supporters.

If the album title Stronger Proof isn't enough of an indicator, Deryl Dodd is setting out to prove he knows country music and he knows how to deliver it. Well, this album certainly provides strong enough proof.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 13 August 2005

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