This is the Drive-by Truckers eighth album and the first after the departure of Jason Isbell. It is long but that is a DBT characteristic, the previous album A Blessing and a Curse was uncharacteristically short. The previous reviewer has been unlucky I've seen the band three times in the UK and they should be here later this year. So what about this album? Needless to say I like it, with the addition of pedal steel player John Neff to replace Jason the sound is far more countryish than previous albums especially on songs like Lisa's Birthday.
Here main songwriter Patterson Hood writes less than half of the songs and compadre Mike Cooley steps up to the plate with seven which showcase his economical, terse way with lyrics. Cooley can tell a story effectively with the minimum amount of words. Thematically the album is about ordinary people and their situations from the closet bound loner of Cooley's Bob to the post-traumatic stress disordered Iraq veteran in Hood's The Man I Shot. Bassist Shonna Tucker adds three songs and her harmonies add texture to other songs. Legendary Muscle Shoals sessioneer, Spooner Oldham, appears on most tracks and his keys are glorious. His masterstroke is Daddy Needs A Drink.
The album opens with Hood's two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife about a man looking down on his own wake and plotting revenge and ends with Monument Valley, an elegy to the Western. In between the band explore suicide and insurance, the Iraq War, alcoholism, illegal guns, drug addiction, growing up (or not) and unfulfilled potential. The album may be a little too long but the Truckers rarely disappoint and I think they have produced an album which compares well to the rest of their back catalogue.