Monday, January 22, 2018

Happy 10th Birthday to Drive-By Truckers, Brighter Than Creation's Dark

Earlier today we wished Dr. John and Gris-Gris a Happy 50th and now we stay in the south and wish the Drive-By Truckers a Happy 10th on their acclaimed release, Brighter Than Creation's Dark.
The album was the first for DBT without Jason Isbell since their breakthrough Southern Rock Opera. It is a huge record that benefited from the band playing some acoustic based shows on the Dirt Underneath Tour which found the players augmented by Spooner Oldham on keys. The legendary Spooner stuck around for this recording and the whole record is a musical tour-de-force. 

It is a loooooong disk, nineteen tracks and all of them have a lot to say either lyrically or musically. Banjo, acoustic guitars, harmonicas and pedal steels gets more love and the tone overall is softer than the majority of their releases putting a focus on the strength of the lyrics.

Patterson Hood pens nine of them and opens with the heartbreaking story song of "Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife" about Bryan Harvey and his families senseless murders and closes things with the the cinematic John Neff pedal steel laced "Monument Valley".

Like all of the Truckers efforts (at least to these ears) Mike Cooley pulls the best lines, while Shonna Tucker holds her own with three tracks. Cooley's "A Ghost to Most" is his visceral reaction to the lack of relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and he also supplied the gorgeous title as it is a line in "Checkout Time in Vegas".

From the fuzz guitars on "3 Dimes Down" to the solemn drums on "The Home Front" to the swirling psychedelia of "That Man I Shot" to the defiant balls rock of "The Righteous Path" the group sound so locked in and confident; it is grand. 

While personal tastes finds RtBE gravitating more towards It's Great To Be Alive and for studio work Decoration Day, there is no denying what an artistic achievement Brighter Than Creation's Dark is. In fact one of our favorite writers on music Robert Christgau pegs it as the bands high-point. Check out his full review:
OK, 19 songs, gotta be filler here somewhere, and there is, only it isn't melodic--with all music credited to the band, Shonna Tucker's muzzier lyrics and Mike Cooley's more elusive ones sound as well-turned as those of Patterson Hood, who's never written better. In Hood's songs, an opening act, an alcoholic, a crankhead, a heroic suicide, a heroic survivor and two different soldiers in Iraq fall between an opener where heaven is Saturday morning with your wife and kids and a closer that contemplates "the ironic nature of history." Cooley remains the lowlife specialist, most warmly with lost party girl Lisa and hometown gay guy Bob. Some complain "Bob" is the corniest country song they ever wrote. That's the point--one of several. A
Pretty spot on and elusive...just like this fantastic release from the Truckers. Enjoy a few tracks from it below, buy the record and most importantly catch them live ASAP

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