Thursday, November 30, 2006

Drive-by Truckers / A Blessing & a Curse

The Drive-by Truckers are an interesting bunch of musicians. I don’t recall where I first heard of ‘em, but during the summer months I’d seen this, their newest CD, in a store and decided to pick it up for a listen. All the hype and reviews seemed to say the same thing….that this band was the heir apparent to Lynyrd Skynyrd. After living with this album for awhile now I’m not exactly sure where the comparison comes from other than the fact these are southern boys and it’s a 3 guitar band. DBT has also been called saviors of Rock n Roll and although I’m not sure about that one either they are most definitely a rock n roll band. If you’re expecting to hear the new millennium’s version of Skynyrd you might be disappointed though….these boys have taken southern styled rock a step or two further than anybody else I know of and really are in a class of their own.
Along with the rockin’ guitars there are also 3 very good songwriters in the band, each with his own style. It’s the songwriting here with these guys that really drew me in after the first couple initial listenings. These guys write lyrics that don’t pull any punches. They write about the downtrodden side of life and each song is almost a character sketch in itself of life in the south in the new millennium. Broken hearts, drugs, death from a variety of causes…..all those things that don’t exactly elicit a warm and fuzzy feeling if you’re trying to sing along.
The music is often raucous although they do have a incredible softer side too. At times the 3 guitar attack is overwhelming and it starts to blur into dissonance while at the same time melodies pop out of the confusion and racket. It’s sometimes more what they’re not playing than what they are…..This album is full of great riffs and hooks, plenty of stuff to get your foot tappin’ and keep it going. It’s not the most accessible stuff out there to be sure, but anyone who wants to really listen to what’s going on musically and lyrically will be rewarded with what I would call some of the most original songwriting I’ve been witness to in a long time. I have yet to buy a second DBT album, although I plan to soon, so I don’t know yet if this album is a happy accident or the latest in a series of groundbreaking musical efforts. The reviews I’ve read would indicate the latter but I’ll have to hear it for myself. In the meantime I thought I’d go thru this one song by song and share some of my thoughts on what I’m hearing as the tracks roll by. This is great stuff and I'd highly recommmend that you grab a copy and see how it hits ya.

February 14th - "Flowers flying across the room, Vases smashed against the floor, Said "I'd rather be alone, take your chocolates and go home" Be my valentine"........ yeah, a love song DBT style. Starts off by laying down the great thumping beat and then guitars come in from everywhere.......if this one don't start yer feet to tapping right off the bat then you may not be DBT material. A great Patterson Hood tune.
Gravity's Gone - A good ole Country rock number by Mike Cooley. I can see a whole bar full of people line dancing to this one. My favorite line would have to be "If you were suppose to watch yer mouth all the time I doubt yer eyes would be above it". I believe Jason Isbell does the slide but I'm not 100% sure on that one.....
Easy On Yourself - One of my favorites, written by Jason Isbell, the newest member of DBT. More great guitars coming from all angles. I try to focus on what one is doing each time thru the tune. A great lead break in the middle too complete with cowbell. "Don't Be so easy on yourself, Cause this one might be all that you have left"
Aftermath USA - A group tune about a life out of control, drugs, sex and rock and roll. Lots of great guitar licks and a great solo to finish off the tune.
Goodbye - An almost slow tune by Patterson about losing touch with people you know and love and how those things happen whether you want them to or not........sometimes people just grow apart and go on to find themselves somewhere else.
Daylight - Another great Jason Isbell tune with a great chorus. "While we still have the daylight, I might look these lessons in the eye.....while we still have the daylight, I might become some brand new kinda guy"
Wednesday - Back to rockin full tilt with this one. I'm not entirely sure I understand what's going on here but it's definitely about a messed up relationship of some sort. "They say every mans house should be his palace, but his castle stank of cat shit and alone". For some reason that I'm not sure of those lines paint a very graphic and clear picture of someone who is on the edge.
Little Bonnie - Probably the most dramatic effect on me was accomplished by this Patterson tune. It's about a little girl, a relative I assume, who dies as a child before Patterson was born who nevertheless has an effect on his life. "Little Bonnie never married, Little Bonnie never even made four, but I grew up in her presence, even though she was gone before I'z born". Lots of beautiful, moody guitar licks all thru this one.
Space City - A beautiful Mike Cooley tune about a man who's lost his wife and how he wishes he could get over the grief and join his wife on the other side of the moon. Lots of nice acoustic guitar pickin' Beautiful melody and like with most of the DBT tunes on this album when I close my eyes the lyrics paint very vivid pictures.
A Blessing and a Curse - Maybe a tune about the duality of life and success? I dunno but it starts out with solid drumming and then the guitars come in with some tasty licks. it also most sounds like the bass player ( a chick) sings this one but I'm not sure......."Wild dreams come true, what to do then.......confusion and glory"
A World of Hurt - The album ends with a spoken words tune about the struggle to love and live on this godforsaken planet but ultimately it's an uplifting tune and ending to what has been less than a happy experience. The last words spoken......"It's great to be alive" ......and so it is.