Jason who? Drive-By-Tuckers’,Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, the first album following the early 2007 departure of key songwriter Jason Isbell, makes the former trucker merely an after-thought. 19 songs and 75 minutes of inner-connected themes courtesy of three songwriters encompassing ‘quiet’, ‘loud’ ‘country’ and ‘balls to the wall rock’ make Brighter a cohesive listen. Add the “out of nowhere” pipes of bassist Shonna Tucker, sturdy pedal steel playing of John Neff and the keyboards of legend Spooner Oldham and you come to realize why front-man Patterson Hood calls this one - “our best album.”
Mike Cooley and Hood contribute a generous amount here (seven and nine songs respectively) alongside Tucker’s three. However its Cooley that becomes the brighter star, offering seven brilliant compositions, ranging from old time country (“Perfect Timing,” “Lisa’s Birthday”) slower country folk (“Bob,” “Check Out Time In Vegas”) andrip roaring bar-room rockers (“3 Doors Down,’ “Self Destructive Zones” and “A Ghost To Most").
Hood’s soulful vocals - most noticeably in the haunting “Daddy Needs a Drink” and “The Opening Act” - and his ability to capture lost down and out souls (“You And Your Crystal Meth,” "The Home Front” and “The Man I Shot”) proves he’s still one of rock's prime storytellers. Tucker adds another dimension with her slow twang on “I’m Sorry Huston” and “The Purgatory Line," while the rocker “Home Field Advantage” would make Joan Jett proud. Yeah, maybe a few tracks could have been left off, but like any well produced album, there are no obvious cutting room floor choices.
Drive-By Truckers may inevitably be hindered by their “southern rock” categorization – it’s unavoidable given their below the Mason Dixon Line album themes - but at the end of these 19 tracksit is what it is…solid and convincing rock and roll.