Album: Drive By Truckers

Decoration Day (New West)
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The Independent Culture

Couched in a rough-hewn blend of country picking and driving rock, Decoration Day holds to the same combination of fast cars, feuds, rebel attitudes and sudden death that informed the Drive By Truckers' breakthrough album from last year, Southern Rock Opera, in which the values of the New South were anatomised through the tragic case of Lynyrd Skynyrd. There's even another quote from Skynyrd's "Freebird", Mike Cooley noting in the drifter's lament "Sounds Better in the Song" that "'Lord knows, I can't change' sounds better in the song/ Than it does with hell to pay". There's a broader range of subjects here, from the incestuous siblings of "The Deeper In" to the girl left waiting at the altar in "My Sweet Annette", with the classic folkloric archetypes wielded with particular assurance on "Sink Hole", in which the bank forecloses on the family farm ("the sound you hear is my daddy spinning over what the banker done"). The band's main source of inspiration, however, is the road they've toured for years: the raggedy raunch of "Hell No, I Ain't Happy" is about as surly as road songs get, sullen grumbling from the back of a crowded van. But, as the Stonesy "Marry Me" acknowledges, music can be a tough addiction: "Rock'n'roll means well, but it can't help telling young boys lies".