I find it difficult to pretend to be objective when reviewing a new release by the Drive-By Truckers. To declare them simply my favorite band would be a gross understatement. I've travelled hundreds of miles to see them live, had my living room walls covered with their posters, and had my heart broken when Jason Isbell and the band parted ways. The day they release a new album is my favorite day of the year (at least, it certainly seems like an annual event). So this past Tuesday was an extra special event for die-hards like myself, as it saw the release of both the band's excellent new album, "Go Go Boots," and the gripping DBT rockumentary "The Secret To A Happy Ending."
Go Go Boots, the band's ninth studio effort, sees the band drift as far from their gritty Southern rock image as they've ever been. Tapping into their Muscle Shoals heritage, "Go Go Boots" reflects the influence that both country, blues, and soul music have had on the Truckers. Mike Cooley's three tracks on the album are all straight-up country as can be, and the band covers two songs by Muscle Shoals icon Eddie Hinton, "Everybody Needs Love" and "Where's Eddie."
The tone of the album is also frequently dark and somber, even by Truckers' standards. Main songwriter Patterson Hood contributes not one but two different songs about philandering ministers arranging to have their wives murdered. Cooley's "Pulaski" starts with a small-town Tennessee girl dreaming of making it in California and ends with a funeral procession. The cinematic story-telling, especially on the Hood songs, is as gripping as ever, especially on songs like the title track and album standout "Used To Be A Cop."
"Secret" is a DBT fan's dream come true, chronicling the long, arduous history of the band, from the meeting of band founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley in 1985 in Muscle Shoals all the way through the release of "A Blessing And A Curse" and Isbell's departure from the band in 2007. It's like the episode of "Behind The Music" that VH1 would clearly never make, giving fans an all-access look behind the scenes for some of the band's most vulnerable moments, and features poignant, insightful interviews and great live concert footage that no DBT fan would want to miss.
The local scene: