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Bob Woodruff

The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain – 2016 (Steel Derrick)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Bob Woodruff

After releasing a pair of critically acclaimed albums in the '90s that led to comparisons to Gram Parsons and Dwight Yoakam, Bob Woodruff's career and personal life spiraled downward. With "The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain," released in Europe in 2013, Woodruff returns with a sound that still has plenty of twang now infused with rock, soul and rhythm and blues.

Woodruff revisits some of his earlier tunes with mixed results. The pop leaning arrangements of the title track and "I'm The Train" are less effective than the straight forward country of the versions on 1994's "Dreams & Saturday Nights," while "Bayou Girl" from the same album works nicely with a rhythm and blues style reminiscent of Dr. John. The remake of "I'm Losing You" differs little from 1997's "Desire Road" original.

Woodruff displays his passion for Motown with a moody take on The Supreme's "Stop In The Name Of Love," while the original ballad "So Many Teardrops" similarly blends soul and country with a tasteful steel guitar added to the mix. "There's Something There," on which Woodruff delivers impassioned soulful vocals, is one of the stronger tracks.

Some tunes seem to address the personal issues that helped derail Woodruff's earlier career as with the anguish of "What Is Heaven" ("Sometimes life isn't fair/So many reasons to despair") and "Paint The Town Blue" ("I'm alone and I'm sinking down"), along with the optimism of "Stand In The Way" ("All the dreams I had and the plans I made are not abandoned/But they have changed").

Despite the unnecessary remakes, "The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain" is a worthy follow-up to his stellar earlier work and serves as an impressive return to the studio.