Secreting lyrics of quiet desperation and twisted reality into a slickly produced,...
Al Spicer 2008-02-01
Drive-By Truckers’ sound ticks all the boxes for Southern Rock – pedal steel guitar, close-knit vocals, the odd reference to grandpappy’s shotgun– and pays a whole backlog of dues without ever sounding derivative. Their musicianship on Brighter Than Creation’s Dark is impeccable throughout – they’ve been together eleven years – and their best tunes concentrate on secreting lyrics of quiet desperation and twisted reality into a slickly produced, conventional country-rock format.
Now and then, their lyrics stray a little close to the edge of self-parody, and this kind of music relies 100% on solid redneck sincerity to keep it on the road, but most songs make it through without exciting more than a wry grin.
Daddy Needs A Drink is surely a contender for song title of the year, and is among the album’s many polished stylistic gems, but That Man I Shot beats it hands down both lyrically and emotionally. Veering surprisingly close towards Neil Young, and swigging deep from Nirvana’s bottle of strong liquor, this is a hellhound-on-my-trail, staggering masterpiece of remorse and fear of retribution.
Drive-By Truckers know their chops when it comes to country but it’s when they kick into a fuzz-tone stomp that they’re at their most comfortable and most impressive. They serve up an Allman Bros. groove with a side order of Lynyrd Skynrd, and show they can genuinely separate the cornpone from the rock when they want to.
After repeated plays, it’s You And Your Crystal Meth - their stunning exercise in sub Mason-Dixon Line psychedelia – that sticks in the mind. The only track here that’s genuinely begging to be played over again, this is without doubt the most inventive and challenging track of the nineteen on the album.