Drive-By Truckers strike a familiar chord on latest album

Welcome 2 Club XII, the latest release by Drive-By Truckers, is so good.

The last two albums were a slight departure from their usual sound. We can’t always want artists basically remaking the same thing over and over again, but this album feels as welcome and warm as that first shot of whiskey at your favorite corner bar that you haven’t been to in a while because you’ve made changes in your life.

And overall, it’s not a complete reworking and return to their old material. It’s familiar yet refined. And there are bits of nostalgia that pop up here and there.

And while Patterson Hood lives in Portland now and definitely deserves to explore new avenues and sounds, the House of Hood and Mike Cooley is at its best telling stories and making political points with the Shoals and North Alabama under the microscope, much like the world as it was presented to us from William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. But the difference is that, while Faulkner’s world was based on his native Lafayette County, Mississippi, the universe of the Drive-By Truckers is a real place with real names, making it harder to separate the real from the absurd, which is entirely the point.

In exploring North Alabama, much like when novel readers do with Yoknapatawpha, it’s revealed that that small area of the world, no matter how bizarre or obscure it may be, is the story of many in America, or around the world.

This communication is what the Truckers excel at and the return to it is a pleasant welcome.

Margo Price and husband Jeremy Ivey also throw in guest backing vocals on ”Forged in Hell and Heaven Sent”.

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