Is there anything the Drive-By Truckers do that's not kick-ass? Thankfully the answer is no. I recently purchased their concept classic Southern Rock Opera, also psyching myself up for this. They've effectively created their own unique brand of country soul music. The new Go-Go Boots could be considered a sequel to the fabulous The Big To-Do, which was released around this time last year (also my introduction to the band). Compared to their previous record, this one is more toned-down in volume, more slow-burning and much more gritty. If The Big To-Do was the first side of The River, then Go-Go Boots is the second side.
Patterson Hood sings on most of the tunes here, and his songwriting is as top-notch as ever. Mike Cooley does the acoustic country stuff, which is still good but nothing much to shout about; definitely not his best work. While the tone of this record is pretty bleak, I realized that there are three more upbeat songs spread evenly throughout: the opening I Do Believe, the middle Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (stunning Eddie Hinton cover in classic DBT rawness) and the closer Mercy Buckets. So the album actually ends on a positive note; "I'll be your saving grace", as Hood proclaims before letting his guitar do the rest of the talking. Meanwhile bassist Shonna Tucker does her own soulful rendition of Where's Eddie?, one of my favs, and her self-penned Dancin' Ricky. Gotta love her (Motown-like) voice.
Other highlights include The Thanksgiving Filter, the awesomely titled Assholes, and Used To Be A Cop, which is unique in a sense that it is anchored by a dance-like beat (think back to The Black Crowes' I Ain't Hiding from two years ago), and there's a dark Springsteen Darkness/Nebraska vibe to the words. And the title track, driven by killer blues slide is another stunning American tale of violence and lust. For me, this album has beaten Radiohead's for best album of the year yet. Now here's hoping for a tour down under so I can finally see 'em live!