Drive By Truckers – The Big To-Do

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Another year – another DBT release.  And, fortunately, it’s an improvement over their last couple CD’s.  DBT continues in The Big To-Do largely with lyrics related Drive By Truckers - The Big To-Doto those who struggle with life, love, and loss. 

The set begins with “Daddy Learned to Fly.”  This title is, in itself, an awkward chorus for a song, but Patterson Hood is experienced at forcing a chorus to a song’s detriment.  The song is uptempo, and it’s only after a careful listening or a read of the lyrics that you realize that the title refers to Daddy’s journey to heaven that’s being discussed.  Their’s an honest child-like view of loss in the lyrics, which read very well.  And if the music attempts to mirror that childish wonder about the great beyond, it doesn’t work well.

“The Fourth Night of my Drinking” is Hood’s lyrical wheelhouse, a very good song about too much booze.  Listen carefully, youngsters.  “Birthday Boy,” by Mike Cooley, is a good song, pointed and amusing.  It’s a shame his voice doesn’t stand more forward in the mix, though.  

“Drag the Lake Charlie” returns to Hood’s penchant for odd choruses, but this one happens to be married to an odd song altogether and, strangely, works.  This is followed by “The Wig He Made Her Wear,” the best song included here.  Telling the story of a preacher who had unseemly desires for his wife, the song is well written, and the music is a welcome departure from the typical DBT sound.  Artistic growth, perhaps?  It’s nice to hear them branch out a little bit.

Shonna Tucker, the bassist, contributes two songs, “You Got Another” and “(It’s Gonna Be) I Told Ya So.”  These are at least as good as her contributions on their last disc, and both are lyrically a decent fit for DBT’s overall tone.  Hood and Cooley are not great singers, but it remains a small charity to listen to Tucker. In a way, she brings an honesty to the set in the worldview of the little guy (or gal, in this case) catching a break. It helps that her songs here are pretty good. 

“This F***ing Job” (edited) is standard Hood observation of being fed up with any or a particular part of life.  It’s well written, but the chorus, both lyrically and musically, betray what sounds like radio airplay aspirations.  

Cooley’s country rave-up “Get Downtown” is another “shake your head and laugh” effort; the man is a demon with words. 

Kim said Jimmy you better get yourself off of that raggedy couch

I’m too pretty to work and I’m tired of you uglying up my house

Jimmy said baby the guys at the top are doing bad as the guys on the street

Kim said the guys at the top ain’t about to be paying alimony to me

Afterwards, the remainder of the songs are just okay, though Cooley’s “Eyes Like Glue” is a nice acoustic boost at the end.

On the one hand, it’s great that DBT has a prodigious output, but it might help if they took a little longer between releases to refine their songs or wait for better ones.  Overall, this is a solid CD and has some good moments, but it’s not a Big To-Do.  They write 1-3 memorable songs per release, but they continue to follow a lesser constellation after their three great CD’s, Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day, and The Dirty South.

Recommended Songs: “The Wig He Made Her Wear” and “The Fourth Night of My Drinking”

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

 

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