Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Drive By Truckers - Brighter Than Creations Dark

Drive-by Truckers
Brighter Than Creations Dark
(01.2008, New West)
Verdict: If you don't feel dirty listening, than you aren't doing it right.

Some people by nature are fanatical. When something comes along that they really relate to they invest themselves in it fully. Studying back stories, collecting random trivia, and more or less annoying anyone that doesn’t share their affections. I’m not one of those people, except for the annoying part. However, I am a big fan of Drive-by Truckers. Not being a fanatic, I haven’t kept up with Drive-by Truckers’ general goings on since their somewhat disappointing 2006 release. Nor have I taken the time to investigate which members of the band contributed which songs in their extensive catalogue, so when I heard that Jason Isbell had departed the band I wasn’t overly concerned. Then I went back through their albums to look up who wrote which songs and I realized that Isbell in fact wrote many of my all time favorite DBT songs. "Danko/Manuel," "Goddamn Lonely Love," and "Outfit" were all written by Isbell. In retrospect I realized that Isbell was the wild card. DBT’s other principle song writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley really are the original essence of DBT’s southern rock sensibilities, but Isbell’s songs made otherwise solid albums into something remarkable. After learning this, I had serious doubts about DBT’s 2008 release Brighter Than Creations Dark. My concern however has proven to be unfounded. Although the addition of Shonna Tucker doesn’t fill the void left by Isbell, her vocals do add a new dynamic to the band, and Hood and Cooley pick up the slack with some of their most interesting and enjoyable songs to date. DBT are truly in their element telling stories of life’s pitfalls, climaxes and generally unnoticed quirks. Brighter Than Creations Dark also finds DBT showing a more humorous side to contrast its generally gritty subject matter. "Bob" is a great song about the kind of odd guy that we all know, "The Righteous Path" rocks you like you know DBT can, and "I’m Sorry Huston" finds DBT at their most country with Shonna Tucker’s vocals. At 19 songs, you’d think that there won't be much left for DBT to sing about after this album, but if our own lives and Drive-by Truckers’ consistent history is any indication, there will be plenty more stories to tell, and hopefully plenty more songs to sing.

-Spruce Lee

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