Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Drive-By Truckers A Blessing and a Curse

"Once upon a time my advice to you would have been to go out and find yourself a whore"
- Patterson Hood, "A World of Hurt"

I can still remember when my brother called me and said, "dude, you've got to hear this."

After getting over the embarassment of missing what was going on in my own back yard, I ingested the Drive-By Truckers' two-disc love letter to Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Southern Rock Opera," like musical crack, and have been hooked ever since.

The world's greatest rock band has come a long way since then, and have lost some of its bombast for the new "Blessing and a Curse." I would have written about it sooner, but it's proved to be a hard album to digest.

Whereas the "Opera," "Decoration Day," and "Dirty South" have been great Saturday night records, the kind that, unfortunately feature lyrics that everyone likes to sing along to when the Truckers take over the 40 Watt, "Blessing" is for the morning after.

Which makes it, in its own way, equally great. It's slightly less democratic, with Patterson Hood penning seven songs to two each for Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell.

Under the guiding hand of veteran North Carolina producer Michael Easter, the Truckers have gone pop for this one, and thankfully turned their sights on the human condition rather than spinning any more too-tall tales about Buford Pusser.

Highlights from Hood include the mournful but soulful "Goodbye" and the closing "A World of Hurt," which is actually all about hope. He also shows the Truckers can still crank it up better than anyone as they tear through "Aftermath USA."

Cooley, who proved with "Carl Perkins' Cadillac" and "Marry Me" that he's on a mission to revive the lost art of the Southern pop song, scores again with "Gravity's Gone," which revels in that '70s AM radio sound. Isbell also shows some of his best writing with "Daylight."

One more song worth mention is "Little Bonnie," which delves into family history and marks a welcome return to "Decoration Day" territory.

Overall, it's a great change of pace from a band that has clearly gotten older, probably gotten wiser, and still rocks hard enough to leave the upcoming kids in their dust. Check it out.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Great review of this fine CD. This record is still growing on me.

AC @ bloggedy blog