Picking a favorite from Drive-By Truckers' last three albums is a fool's errand. Even so, A Blessing and a Curse may prove their most enduring. Not as yoked to the Southern-fried country-rock sound they built, the Truckers' stylistic stretching on Curse is accompanied by several gut-wrenching paeans: Mike Cooley threatens to steal the show on "Gravity's Gone" with lines like "Cocaine rich comes quick, and that's why the small dicks have it all" and "Don't ever let them make you feel like saying what you want is unbecoming/If you were supposed to watch your mouth all the time, I doubt your eyes would be above it." Jason Isbell's "Daylight," meanwhile, is the album's biggest reach, an unabashed pop ballad with a whiff of the '80s in its B-3 organs. But coming on the heels of "Goodbye," Patterson Hood's downbeat ode to a friendship beyond repair, the hopeful "Daylight" shines bright. There's a current moving through the album, and it's not the rushing rapids of prior releases (aside from their spot-on Stones nod, "Aftermath USA"). Overall, Curse is subtle, insistent, and full of bittersweet moments that are both haunting and irresistible.
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