Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Music Decade List #4: Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South (2004)

More than any other band of these times, no one is more tied to a sense of place than the Drive-By Truckers. They've made a career out of crafting songs on just what it means to be from the South, and The Dirty South is a series of songs about those on the bottom end of life down in Alabama and points surrounding. Whether it be about Sherriff Buford Pusser ('The Buford Stick'), the moonshine gangs he tried to stamp out ('The Boys From Alabama') or people just down and out ('Puttin' People on the Moon'), Patterson Hood crafts expert songs that convey what life is like in a certain area for people like myself who view it as an alien world. Why The Dirty South rises above the output of the group's earlier albums are the songs contributed by Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell, who match Hood in effectiveness and melody. Cooley offers a handful of very good selections, especially 'Carl Perkins' Cadillac' and 'Cottonseed.' Isbell's songs don't quite fit the story structure of the rest of the album but they may the standout tracks for the album; a re imaging of Johny Henry ('The Day of John Henry Died'), or a somber reflection on The Band ('Danko/Manuel'). Sadly, this would be his last output with the Truckers as he left to pursue a solo career. With the solid contributions of all three, on top of the powerful sound the band can produce, The Dirty South may sum up best what the Drive-By Truckers have been striving for over the last decade.

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