Daddy music: Drive-By Truckers
The most notably repeated word/concept on Decoration Day, the Truckers’ last record near this good, was “daddy”. Even though Patterson Hood was at least 35, the daddy was always in not just the third person, but the previous generation – his, yours, a moral authority sought or one unavoidable, or one to try your damndest to ignore. This time, daddy shows up plenty, though no more than “wife” or “kids” because this time he’s singing in the voice of the daddy or characters whose peers are – guys who live with the responsibility, live for it, or avoid it with cunning or, as in “Bob,” an admiring portrait of a permanent bachelor-loner-slob, avoid it without much difficulty at all. A lot can happen to a guy’s head in five years.
Jason Isbell, who was in his early 20’s five years ago and wrote about his daddy like he still called home a lot, as in his best song he did, is gone. But the weird thing is that his now-ex-wife Shonna Tucker has not only stayed on, but started writing and singing. She’s not up to Isbell’s best, not yet, but she deserves the shots she gets. Meanwhile, and maybe this was already happening on one of the ensuing albums whose songs didn’t get me to pay full attention to, they’ve lightened up their touch as a band, no longer feeling that every song needs to get rammed home just because they know how to do it right. They’re better off just a little laid back, like the Bottle Rockets when they don’t have an absolutely singular song like “Radar Gun” or “$1000 Car.” They’ve convinced me they’ll be in it for the long haul, and that before their next one in 2010 or so I should check out The Dirty South and A Blessing and a Curse again.
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