After taking a spin through Tommy Womack's latest album, Stubborn, it's obvious to see the guy can do practically anything. The Nashville-based wordsmith has the heart of a rocker, the fatalism of a seasoned troubadour, a wit that rivals that of Bap Kennedy or Robbie Fulks, the weird streak of an aging boho, and a backwoods country twang that recalls Steve Earle and Jim Lauderdale at their most playful and loose-limbed. But Womack is his own strange man -- a bitter comic, a romantic loser -- and Stubborn, his second longplayer, resonates with rebel passion, drunken charm, and biting black humor.
With a revolving cast of session pros and guest-star buddies sitting in on various tracks, the album has a deceptively nonchalant ambiance that almost undermines the darkness of its finest moments. Listen closely, though, and you'll hear Womack's acidic wordplay and cynical brilliance cut through the rollicking, rambunctious trashed-up country rock and roll. "I Don't Have a Gun" is a lacerating near-suicidal rant from a dejected lover who's not sure whether or not he's glad his baby is gone, while the self-explanatory "Going Nowhere" is a bleak shot of pessimism set to a loping honky-tonk groove and punctuated with some fine backing vocals from Scorchers frontman Jason Rigenberg. Elsewhere Womack turns to rootsy, achy power-pop on "She Likes to Talk" and "The Urge to Call," revamps mid-Sixties Dylan on "Up Memphis Blues," and balances both tragedy and hilarity on "Dreams and Golden Rivers," a country rave-up that summarizes everything great about this Music City oddball. Too bad there aren't more like him.