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Woodruff shows desire second time around

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 1997

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"When I was being encouraged to look at outside material by Imprint, I kind of enjoyed it," Woodruff says. "They didn't really tell me include other people's songs. They intimated they were looking for stuff that was little bit more straight forward.

Woodruff gets downright soulful - while still maintaining a country flavor - in covers of two Arthur Alexander songs "Everyday I Have to Cry" and "If It's Really Got to Be This Way." The former was penned by the late R&B singer more than three decades ago. The latter was on Alexander's 1993 comeback disc and written in part with country writer Gary Nicholson.

"I've always been a big Arthur fan," Woodruff says. "He's one of the greatest songwriters in the world...I love both those songs a lot...It's fun. I wish I wrote (it), but it fits in with my songs. It's not unlike something I might have written."

"Country music and R&B are pretty close," he says, referring to the Stax/Volt and Muscle Shoals kind of Southern soul. Woodruff says he was influenced by the likes of Gram Parsons, who did the classic "Dark End of the Street" as a link between country and R&B.

"He was doing things that I wanted to do," Woodruff says of Parsons. "I knew of him and his records. When I first heard him in late '80's, something hit me because this cat is trying to do what I'm doing now."

Of the remaining nine songs, Woodruff penned three alone and six with others, also a change from the debut. "At first it seemed hard," Woodruff says of writing with others. "I always approached songwriting as something pretty personal and something I always did on my own, but after working with people like Michael Smotherman and Gary Nicholson, I learned how to open myself up a little bit when I write songs. To a certain extent, it's important to work without a lot of self-consciousness."

The songs are filled with the desires of love blooming and busting with depth and story to the lyrics, "Out of the Blue" highlights a hopefulness after the end of a relationship.

"That Was Then" is the tale of a an ex-star "just looking for a joint that has cold beer and a place to plug in my amp tonight" in a twangy/traditional musical setting.

"Cry Behind the Wheel" is a tale of heartbreak with the need to outrun the pain. Kennedy provides good mandolin licks here.

Others helping on the record include Raul Malo and Paul Deakin of The Mavericks, Joy Lynn White and ace session player Harry Stinson on backing vocals.

While looking to find a place on country radio, Imprint's first move is towards the growing Americana segment, radio stations playing a mixture of country, folks and roots music. "We're really hoping to establish a beachhead with Americana and go to country sometime in May or June," Woodruff says.

"It lowers the ante a little bit," Woodruff says of the strategy. "My first record, we went straight at country radio. It's a make or break kind of thing. If you don't get a record up the charts, it's a real lonely feeling."

"We still have a shot with it (at country radio)," says Woodruff, who plans to tour starting in April. "It's a bit scary. It's so closed right now. I'm real happy that we're not relying on it."

"People are scratching their heads about what's going on with country radio now. It's in flux. All I can do as an artist, is try to make the best record I can with an eye towards songs that accessible and commercial enough to fit on country radio."

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