The latest album from the Drive By Truckers is a collection of unusual monologues and poems with rough edges. Most of the songs are character pieces: some of southern stereotypes (tornado victims and famous sheriffs) and others of unlikely individuals (war veterans and Nascar fans). The Dirty South sounds like a traditional southern rock album, but the lyrics written by Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood are more than ordinary.
Cooley and Hood take turns singing over instrumentals led by three driving guitars. The heartfelt inflection and Alabama twang in their voices give their songs character, making it easy to believe that these guys are from the south. “Puttin’ People on the Moon” reads like an angry letter to a congressman in the 80s, complaining of the effects of Reaganomics on a lower class family. In that song, Hood protests about “Double digit unemployment, TVA be shutting soon/While over there in Hunstville, they puttin’ people on the moon.”
The song “Sands of Iwo Jima” is probably the highlight of the album. It’s a portrait of a World War II veteran from the point of view of his young nephew. The lyrics sound as though they were actually written by an insightful 10 year old.
The Drive By Truckers are a great D.I.Y. band from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and they have a lot to say with their music. This CD will definitely appeal to more than their core audience of tornado victims and Nascar fans.
Matt Dingerdissen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.