Since bouncing back from health problems four years ago, Deryl Dodd's albums have equivocated between his Texas roots and Nashville's commercial ambitions. His second release for Dualtone was recorded in Nashville with studio A-listers and though it mostly stays true to Dodd's honky tonk heart, it takes detours for a pop-inflected ballad and some flavor-of-the-month rowdy rock.
The album opens well with the twangy two-step "Wearin' a Hole." Dodd sings full throated, with guitars and steel that could cut through the noisiest barroom din. His cover of Jim Lauderdale and Clay Blaker's "It's Only 'Cause You're Lonely" is even better than his 1998 version, and "Thanks to the Man" delivers a fine honky tonk song of thanks to the man whose mistreatment sent a good woman into the singer's arms.
The emotional centerpiece, "Solid Ground," is a low-string slice-of-life ballad on which Dodd really shows what he can pour into a country song. Less inspiring are the too-soft pop-crossover "I'm Not Home Right Now," and the Muzik Mafia styled rebel-rock "Into Outlaw." There's some very satisfying music here, made great by Dodd rather than the by-the-charts players.