# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Drive By Truckers - The Big To-Do

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 3 / 4 / 2010

Drive By Truckers - The Big To-Do
Label: Play It Again Sam
Format: CD


Excellent tenth album of guitar riock and continued return to form from Drive-By Truckers, which while more convenntional than some of their othe recent offerings is equally rewarding

In 2007, there would have been some who told you that the Drive-By Truckers were close to finished. Jason Isbell had left the band, and even if he was their least productive songwriter, he was also often their best. The band had rowed their way through their last tour, in support of an album (2006’s ‘A Blessing and A Curse’) that – while it had its moments – was their first album to be noticeably worse than its predecessor. And then came ‘Brighter Than Creation’s Dark’, a double album that came with some of their most touching ballads, their hardest rocking anthems and a new niche as an effective country-blues outfit. It was one of the year’s best albums, won them a host of new fans (including this writer) and was quickly followed by a valedictory tour, and one of the most relentless live experience I’ve ever been lucky enough to see. ‘The Big To-Do’ is, by comparison, a streamlined model. 6 tracks shorter and focused almost exclusively on upbeat electric guitar rock. It hones in on one or two of the many shades that DBT employed on ‘Brighter…’.Here is an album that does exactly what it says on the tin: it sounds like the very Drive-By Truckers that their fans have come to know and love. The band’s lyrical style has evolved remarkably. Patterson Hood has become an authentic chronicler of the thoughts and feelings of hard working, hard drinking middle America. Although there are regular traces of the bar room ditties that long term fans will know well, Hood and his fellow songwriters have all become compellingly skilled-storytellers, relying on convincing character sketches. They have a believable empathy for ordinary human concerns and an ability to turn normal life into dramatic music. Musically, this album is either much less remarkable that its sprawling predecessor, or much more – depending on one’s point of view. Certainly, the band have taken fewer risks, and as a result, there are no ‘happy accidents’ in the vein of ‘Bob’, a catchy little country-folk ditty that probably wouldn’t have made the cut on a shorter album, but was one of the best moments on 'Brighter Than Creation's Dark'. The conscious attempt to make this album a reflection of the band’s live show has yielded great dividends. The songs are more conventional, yes, but they have harder hooks, tougher rhythms and pack a meatier punch. And, even if they rely on the same raw sound the same as the songs on earlier DBTs albums, there are some corkers here – ‘The Fourth Night of My Drinking’, for example, is a classic: tragic and anthemic, angry and jubilant, it's as good a song as Patterson Hood has ever written. One of the revelation’s of the last album was how bassist Shona Tucker suddenly stepped up to songwriter status. Clearly, the departure of her former husband Jason Isbell from the band gave her the room to branch out a little. And yet, that was a mere glimpse of pleasures to come. Her ballad, ‘You Got Another’, builds from the simplest piano/vocal combination into a full-throated rock monster – and a vocal line to die for. Tucker sings like the subjects of her sad song feel, but also with the confidence of someone who has learned how good she is at what she does. If ‘The Big To-Do’ has a slight flaw, it is that the songs seem to lose momentum towards the very end of this disc. But, with another half-dozen of stone-cold classics added to their roster, this tiny flaw is more than compensated by the thrilling thought that there will be another jaw-dropping live show making its way to the UK, and – according to Patterson Hood – another album due before the end of 2010.

Track Listing:-
1 Daddy Learned To Fly
2 The Fourth Night Of My Drinking
3 Birthday Boy
4 Drag The Lake Charlie
5 The Wig He Made Her Wear
6 You Got Another
7 This Fucking Job
8 Get Downtown
9 Girls Who Smoke
10 After The Scene Dies
11 (It's Gonna Be) I Told You So
12 Santa Fe
13 The Flying Wallendas
14 Eyes Like Glue

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