Bands change. Bands experiment. Bands have bad days. The Drive-By Truckers have already had their “bad day”—the middling A Blessing and a Curse—so I’m going to accept the second explanation. In fact, the celebrated alt-country/southern rock band has said as much—that this is their “Muscle Shoals soul” record.
Fair enough, unless that’s just an excuse for writing “sad old man music,” as some have dubbed Drive-By Truckers’ recent output. That accusation proves hard to dispute while listening to Go-Go Boots, waiting for the pace to pick up or even vary.
It’s difficult to stifle a yawn as the southern rockers, who once put their estimable rocking skills to work ripping through tunes like the feisty “Where the Devil Don’t Stay,” dutifully recounts the story of “Ray’s Automatic Weapon,” sounding as tired as I felt listening. DBTs’ knack for storytelling remains, but it seems their ability to mold these stories into catchy or interesting songs has gone on hiatus.
“Assholes” is another dullard, a plodding divorce tale—a professional split rather than a broken romantic relationship—that drags the crisp lyrics through a morass of a tune that’s the musical equivalent of slopping through gumbo mud. “The Fireplace Poker,” a lesser entry in the band’s ever-growing portfolio of murder songs, suffers from a similarly sleepy accompaniment.
Thankfully, there are undeniable standouts in the collection—mostly in the final third of the album. “Everybody Needs Loves,” almost as simple a song as its title would indicate, is a mellow country singalong that rises above the sameness of the album thanks to Patterson Hood’s cheerfully honest delivery and a welcome respite from endless lower tones prevalent through most of the proceedings. Mike Cooley’s “Pulaski” is a toe-tapping country shuffle that sounds like something from another era altogether. “Mercy Buckets,” a gospel-tinged ballad with Skynyrd-esque guitars, ends the nearly joyless Go-Go Boots on a sunny and spirited note.
Whether this is—as I expect it to be—a one-off exploration or a logical continuation of the post-Jason Isbell rut detractors claim the band is in, Go-Go Boots is a lethargic exercise, not nearly as soulful as they surely intended. The Truckers still sound as tight as ever, and their blood-stained lyrics may be even keener than usual, but a general lack of variation in tempo doesn’t suit them. That and the smoky haze of colorlessness makes Go-Go Boots a tedious listen.
Interviews8 months ago
Laurie Anderson as Fenway Bergamot on Punctuation, God and Kierkegaard
Interviews7 months ago
Darius Rucker – The Country Music Interview
Interviews6 months ago
Deer Tick Digs Deep on new Record the Black Dirt Sessions
Interviews5 months ago
Catching up with Chris Hillman of The Byrds & The Desert Rose Band
Interviews10 months ago
Billy Ray Cyrus – (We Weren’t Allowed to Ask Any Miley Questions)
Interviews9 years ago
Exclusive Interview with GRAMMY-Winner Marc Cohn
Concert Reviews8 years ago
Concert Review: Mumford & Sons at The War Memorial in Nashville
Concert Reviews8 years ago
Concert Review: OK GO at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge