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The New OK
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The New OK
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Drive-By Truckers released The Unraveling on Jan 31st 2020 and set out for what was supposed to be a full year of touring. Needless to say it did not go as planned. "The New OK" is a phrase Patterson Hood found himself saying a lot these past few months. This new album, made up of songs left over from The Unraveling sessions and new ones written and recorded since, hopefully balances out the darkness of our current situation with a hope for better days and nights ahead.
- Product Dimensions : 5.55 x 4.88 x 0.31 inches; 2.05 Ounces
- Manufacturer : ATO Records
- Original Release Date : 2020
- Date First Available : September 30, 2020
- Label : ATO Records
- ASIN : B08JHRGV8P
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I find "The Unraveling" (which was not on the album of that name), "The Perilous Night," and "The Distance" to be the strongest and best songs, the first two addressing the fascist threat in the U.S. Matt Patton sings "The Unraveling," and does a great job. "Sea Island Lonely" is also really good, a different sound and mood with horns. "The New OK" and "Watching the Orange Clouds" are reflections on the summer's protests in Portland, Patterson's new home.
Cooley's one song is "Sarah's Flame," a sarcastic tribute to a politician who paved the way for the current crisis. (Richard Thompson's "Sally B" is an ode to the same individual on his album "Electric" from 2013.) The song that for me is the least effective musically is "Tough to Let Go," though it has an admirable sentiment. The 36-minute album closes with a rousing cover of the Ramones' "The KKK Took My Baby Away."
This is an excellent album, one which I find to be much better than the previous one. I hope Mike reconnects with his songwriting mojo soon. On to 2021!
*** *** ***
The 16-page booklet includes all the lyrics as well as liner notes by Patterson. And once again the superb cover art is by the inimitable Wes Freed!
This isn't a problem, per se. Artists have been commenting on the moment in time for generations. Yet an album is a different kind of artistic format than, say, a movie. Music fans, particularly fans of the Truckers, collect the albums with the intent of going back to the music, often years later, and music so closely tied to a moment will sometimes age well, and sometimes not. Some of the protest music from the Vietnam War and Civil Rights era is as powerful decades later as when it was originally recorded. It is far from clear that The New OK-- so clearly about 2020-- fits that description, in contrast with The Dirty South.
To be sure, this is good. The writing, wherever one stands on politics, is good. The playing is sharp. The band remains strong. It should be noted that the aggressive edge has tamped down the country leanings that often added sonic breadth to their work, and whether or not that counts as a detriment or not will be a matter of taste. Nevertheless, it deserves to be noted.
What is missing? Consider English Oceans. English Oceans was a similarly timely album, motivated by changes in American culture and politics, but "Made Up English Oceans" was written in a way that felt like it can cross generations in ways that the material here likely will not. That contrast is probably where The New OK sounds like merely a very good album rather than a straight up great album. Of course, the fact that the Truckers at their worst are merely very good is a testament to how good they are, but at the end of the day, is this the album that a fan will choose to play when the moment in history is too far distant a memory? Perhaps not. That is the flaw. And still, it is a very good album.
I found NO fault with it - top to bottom.
Now... if you are one who subscribes to political Big Lies, you very well might find fault with the lyrics. But the music is damn good!
Songs and performances are, as always, top-notch. Hood seems a little more dominant on this collection.
IMO, one of the most important rock bands around much more important than, say, Foo Fighters, and I rate theirs up there with their former member, Jason Isbell's current work - IOW, excellent.