Feature

Drive-By Truckers

The members of Drive-By Truckers could be characters in their own ballads, said Richard Cromelin in the Los Angeles Times. These champions of Southern rock, known for stories about strife and fortitude, have faced struggles of their own this past year. Gu

Drive-By Truckers
Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
(New West)

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The members of Drive-By Truckers could be characters in their own ballads, said Richard Cromelin in the Los Angeles Times. These champions of Southern rock, known for stories about strife and fortitude, have faced struggles of their own this past year. Guitarist Jason Isbell left to go solo, leaving ex-wife and bassist Shonna Tucker to take up singing and songwriting. Founding guitarist John Neff returned to replace Isbell, while Spooner Oldham now pitches in on piano and organ. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark thus “completes one of the widest mood swings in recent rock history,” but the end result is a testament to the band’s true grit and rooted devotion to the music. For Drive-By Truckers, music has always been personal, said Jon Pareles in The New York Times. Over the past decade, the Atlanta-based band has “juxtaposed observation and fiction, autobiography and allegory.” They’ve taken seriously the title of a tune by their Southern-style cousins Creedence Clearwater Revival, and written a song for everyone. This album introduces 19 more characters—“family men, criminals, drunks, workers, addicts, soldiers, even musicians.” At a sprawling 75 minutes, the album doesn’t need all 19 songs, said Jim Farber in the New York Daily News. But the lengthy track list allows room for the band to showcase its “deep talent pool,” from the “gruff authority” of guitarist Mike Cooley’s growl to Tucker’s vocals, which sound “like a shot of Loretta Lynn with a chaser of Neko Case.”

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