Drive-By Truckers "Brighter Than Creation's Dark" (New West) *** ½
THE eighth album from this protean band completes one of the widest mood swings in recent rock history. After specializing in thematically cohesive albums and a revitalized brand of Southern rock, the Athens, Ga.-based Truckers are now all over the place.
The result is a sprawling, 75-minute immersion in the dynamic between Patterson Hood's Neil Young/Tom Petty-influenced folk and rock and Steve Cooley's mix of Rolling Stones, stone country and Band-flavored folk-rock.
It's tied together by the Truckers' customary focus on characters coping "in a world turned cold," pushed to the edge by various forces -- internal compulsions, military orders, financial desperation. It's not just good old boys this time. In "Goode's Field Road," a successful family man carefully plots his own demise.
The CD starts with a dream of heaven and ends in an encounter with John Ford, whose words of wisdom have been clearly heeded by the Truckers: "Tell them just enough to still leave them some mystery/A grasp of the ironic nature of history." That's a wrap.
CD: Drive-By Truckers
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