"Time To Go", Woody Russell's 2001 release, continues to explore his trademark brand of "thinking man's Americana." Drawing from his diverse musical background, the songs on this recording move smoothly from robust Delta slide guitar riffs and gritty vocals to somber storytelling ballads. On several tracks his one-of-a-kind "Resolectric" guitar conjures up a wicked "banjo-esque" sound that is rootsy and absolutely unique to this release. The entire performance from the band is stunning and well produced; with lush vocal harmonies and haunting instrumental textures throughout. Continued respect for earlier American roots music, such as the blues and narrative folk forms, is always present in Russell's songs. Some of his more obvious contemporary songwriter influences; Richard Thompson, Bruce Cockburn, Mark Knopfler and even Tom Waits are also reflected in some slight way.
"I welcome their influence on my songwriting," says Woody. "I can't go wrong by paying close attention to the work of artists that I consider to be absolutely masterful songwriters and musicians. My intention is to walk the tightrope of being a precision tune-smith who knows when to stop at a deliberately rough hewn gem," states Woody.
With "Time To Go" Russell's ability to capture a scene, a character and a melody that sticks has become even more intriguing, more "cinematic". It's a natural progression from the subtle, folk-infused '96 debut, "...as simple as that". Yet, much like his debut he employs no recycled, unimaginative hooks here. The stories he brings to life are equal parts melancholy and humor. The characters are both the forgotten and the victorious. The lovers and the heartbroken. He writes of a social consciousness. He explores the philosophical. Occasionally, he admits to being a helpless romantic and he always chooses to up the ante, taking a chance on creating some well penned magic.
Standout tracks begin with the opening song, 'Not Lay Down And Die'. Funky, bone-slide guitar picking sets the CD in motion with a hook that resonates with the spirit of a Delta blues - I'm still here and I'm gonna testify / That I've been run ragged / But I will not lay down and die. 'Stargirl' follows with its slick, bluesy groove and slightly estranged character portrayal, perhaps a nod to early Steely Dan. 'Been So Good To Me.com', is absolute tongue-in-cheek fun in pure WR style that takes shots at dot-com types. Through stinging Irish fiddle influenced guitar riffs the lyric states wryly that - The dot-com millionaires advise that this microbrew's great, man / This town's been so good to me / Get me the hell out of here, Honey. The title track, 'Time To Go', finds Russell and his listeners in a laid back mood, cruising down a road of departure from the past; perhaps with Van Morrison on the radio - I've got friends who are happy to stay where they've been / God bless their souls / But the lines on my face suggest that I step up the pace / So it's on with the show / It's time to go. The subtle shuffle of 'You've Got Me Wrong', candidly tells about Russell's encounter with everyone who has ever offered, or rather, insisted that their uninformed opinion be heard regarding his work. With wry humor he states - So that's your opinion / A slim chance you're right / Don't push it on me / I don't need it tonight.
Reflective, at times bittersweet, even witty, this collection of songs on 'Time To Go' displays unquestionably that Woody Russell sings with sincerity about what he sees and feels in the world around him, and a future that lies just beyond the next turn in the road.