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The Truckers Get Their Groove Back
on March 3, 2014
This is the best Drive-By Truckers album in years. In fact, it's easily the finest since their masterpiece, Southern Rock Opera. This sounds like quite a claim, of course, and who can blame anyone who doesn't quite trust it. I wouldn't. But do yourself a favor and listen to the song samples. You'll recognize immediately that this album is something special. Suddenly, the group doesn't seem as if it is missing Jason Isbell. In fact, as fine a musician as Isbell is, and as impressive as his solo work has become, he would only get in the way here, for this album needs no straight man, no middle ground. Hood and Cooley are in fine form, managing a nice balance of wit and weight, pathos and pleasure. Cooley exudes his usual folksy, knowing charm, Hood his high-pitched angst. Yet none of the tracks ever gets bogged down in heavy-handed philosophizing; none of the songs feel self-indulgent or labored or painfully, maddeningly slow, as they were on so much of Go-Go Boots. Foremost, this is a real album, not just a haphazard collection of songs. It moves fluidly from track to track, and every last one of them rocks. This marks an important point in the Drive-By Truckers story--the album in which the new, leaner version of the band finally found its groove. This album will not disappoint.