The Drive-By Truckers' seventh studio album finds them at a crossroads, but hardly at an impasse.
The Drive-By Truckers’ seventh studio album finds them at a crossroads, but hardly at an impasse. Made up of multiple singer-songwriters (all gifted), the group recently lost prominent guitarist/songwriter Jason Isbell to a solo career. They soldier on and have crafted a fine, if overlong, collection of assorted countrified roots rock.Less tongue-in-cheek and more mature than some of their earlier discs — but still stuffed with witty lyrics — “Brighter” finds composers Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Shonna Tucker often turning to heavy themes of love, loneliness and loss (especially on the death-obsessed “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife”). They even take on Iraq war vets in “That Man I Shot.” On tracks like “Three Dimes Down” and the sensational “Self Destructive Zones,” the group still works up a sweat in an epic, southern boogie kind of way, helped by producer/engineer David Barbe, formerly of Sugar. They’re equally adept at working their way through a pretty ditty like “Purgatory Line” and the dry “Bob.” Nineteen tracks over an hour and 15 minutes is a lot to take in, but “Brighter” is smartly paced, and with multiple lead singers taking turns, it rarely feels repetitive.