Drive-By Truckers

Brighter Than Creation's Dark
New West Records

The departure of a performer as strong as Jason Isbell, who went solo last year, would cripple most bands — but not Drive-By Truckers. The group has rolled on for a decade-plus despite personnel changes because songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley continue to share shifts behind the wheel. Thanks to their efforts and an assist from a new contributor, Creation's Dark hauls an oversize load: nineteen songs' worth of American music done right.

Hood's wispy/raspy vocals are heard to moving effect on "Daddy Needs a Drink," a gorgeous weeper graced by keyboardist Spooner Oldham, while Cooley's sharp twang adds authenticity to "Checkout Time in Vegas," a ditty inspired by Denver-based guitar maker and budding documentarian Scott Baxendale. As a bonus, bassist Shonna Tucker, Isbell's ex-wife, steps from the shadows to offer "I'm Sorry Huston" and "The Purgatory Line," a pair of vividly warbled laments that mark her as a promising tunesmith in her own right.

There's still plenty of talent on display, even though Isbell is now on a different road.

 
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