Tommy Womack is a survivor- literally. He came to our attention with Government Cheese, who took the punk rock road out of Kentucky to great acclaim. Well, not really, but he got a great and hilarious book out of it- The Cheese Chronicles: The True of a Rock N’ Roll Band You’ve Never Heard Of, and brought him to Nashville. He hooked up with songwriter/guitarist Will Kimbrough (Willie Sugarcapps, etc) in The Bis-Quits, who were signed to John Prine’s “Oh Boy” label for about 5 minutes- the two still perform together in Daddy, and Kimbrough lends his talents to Namaste.
Now the survival part kicks in. Last year Womack misjudged a semi-truck coming home from a gig, and once his car stopped rolling, he was gravely injured, with broken bones and a hip fracture. Months of rehab occurred, and thankfully Tommy is back on his feet, with a new album, Namaste, which is just the latest installment of Womack’s special songwriting talent. He’s not the greatest singer, not a guitar hero, and he’ll be the first to admit his days as a matinee idol have passed him by, so all his has to offer is the truth- and serve it he does. At times he wraps the barb in a tongue in the cheek bon mot, such as on “Hot Flash Woman” or “Come-Over Blues”. His withering look at his hometown, “Nashville” is a wicked live stream of consciousness with Womack on fire about “Music City” and all that entails. Or he can catch your breath with a harrowing “I Almost Died” which, amazingly, isn’t about his car wreck, but rather a near-death drug experience in 2007. It’s a brutally honest look back from someone who probably devotes a bit of time each day to give thanks and pray to whatever kept him alive (and gave him the inspiration for “God Part III”).
There’s a reason why Tommy Womack has been a fan favorite in Nashville for years- he’s hysterically funny (such as on “When Country Singers Were Ugly”), bittersweet when applicable (“Angel”, “It’s Been All Over Before”), or a great social critic, as illustrated with “Darling Let Your Free Bird Fly”. But beneath it all, Tommy Womack is a survivor. And even if he never writes another song, we’ll all be thankful that his light hasn’t faded quite yet. But when his material is as good- and honest- as Namaste, let’s hope he still has a few songs up his sleeve. Good on ya Tommy, good on ya.