Inexplicably, sometimes the collaborative sum is far greater than the respective parts. No disrespect intended to the solo efforts of Jack Logan or to those of Bob Kimbell (who fronts the band Weird Summer), but when these two get together there just seems to be some additional musical magic. Woodshedding presents eleven new tracks, diverse in style yet all of them flowing easily, with a warm and inviting alt-country sound that reminds one of life's simple pleasures.
"Further South" is driven by a great bass bounce, a sort of unadorned relaxed recounting of lyrical silliness: "On the trolley with my white socks / ringing bells from all the time clocks / and it's time that I'm in line to choke and kill / Cadillacs with golden bumpers / kangaroos from way down under / hopping across the mansions on the hill / This river meets the ocean further south / with New Orleans on the corner of its mouth / The sin runs down from the people in the towns and runs to the ocean further south." Kimbell's mournful harmonica flourishes add just the right touch and William Tonks' guitar is outstanding.
"Host of the Party" has almost an island-type rhythm to it, with lovely acoustic guitar by Nick Rudd. This is a simple story about the appearance of the wrong man at the wrong place: "You want to get away from me / I'm the thing you fear the most / Want to know if you're the host of the party."
"Legs & Brains" is a great blues number, again containing marvelously obscure lyrics that still sound great: "Fords and Chevys and Dodges / Hornets and Stingrays and Hawks / big glare of babies with basketball heads / learning to walk and to talk / too much legs and brains, too much legs and brains / babe on a bottle, I keep complaining."
However, you'd be hard-pressed to find more honest lyrics than those of "I Still Miss Her Dog". This country send-up tells the tale of a man who misses his ex-woman's canine, even after he's found a new relationship: "My new love lives alone, no cats or dogs at home, just stereo and TV making sound / I know I should be glad, I'm not, I'm kinda sad without a certain doggie hanging round / I still miss her dog / chasing rubber balls across her lawn / place no one else above me, I know that dog still loves me / and I still miss her dog." Tonks delivers some great dobro here.
John Neff (Star Room Boys, Japancakes) provides some wonderfully weepy pedal steel on several songs here, and really contributes to the spacious atmosphere in "Nothing But Sky". The pedal steel is the perfect complement to emotive vocals here; it gives the song attitude and altitude.
Perhaps my favorite track is the relatively upbeat "Here Comes Sisyphus". This is the confession of the everyman who has a goal in mind in spite of his daily setbacks: "How many times can I keep on wrapping those same old gifts / turning in cul-de-sacs, backing down dead-end roads / too proud to ask directions to the places that I want to go / People watch me as I hammer and scratch away / and one will turn to the other, lower his voice and say / Here comes Sisyphus pushing that rock on up the hill, don't think he ever will / here comes Sisyphus pushing that rock on up the hill / it's gonna roll on back, crush his ass / he oughta know better than that."
Kimbell and Logan harmonize in a way oddly reminiscent of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris' cover of "Love Hurts" in the somber "The Only Son". John Neff again does a virtuoso job with the pedal steel here, adding weight and personality to this tale of an orphaned boy trying to cope.
"Ripped It Away" is an inventive song of blame and opportunity lost ("everything changed right away") with some interesting musical changes as well. "Holes in Your Story" is one man's defense of himself against another's, reminding her that he knows things about her too and that they must come to a sort of agreement ultimately.
Another Caribbean-type rhythm backs the mood-track "Navigator Type". This is pretty, but it's more a musical feel, a vibe, than anything else -- the lyrics seem almost improvised.
"Just As You Are" switches gears, as Brendan Gamble's percussion moves to the soft drum and brush sounds of the late-night lounge. There are some great vocals here (along with some fine piano and lead guitar accents), in this harsh yet loving indictment of another: "Sure good to see you with egg on your face / it covers those burning cold eyeballs of yours / you sit getting drunk listening to old records / the books on your shelf tell a twisted tale / the contents of your sad refrigerator / there isn't a word that I need to say / Don't get me wrong, you were right all along / you're fine as you are / just as you are."
The CD finishes with a hidden all-instrumental track of "I Still Miss Her Dog", perfect for a little late night home karaoke. Jack Logan and Bob Kimbell seem to do their best work together and Woodshedding is all the proof you'll need. If you are a fan of alt-country pop, you'll love the down-home ease that runs through this fine collection of songs. This is well-executed casual music that hits home without a lot of seriousness, and is a pleasure on the ears.