Drive By Truckers, Decoration Day

Andrew Mueller

By Andrew Mueller

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Decoration Day

Drive By Truckers
How do you follow up the most ambitious album of your career?

Released in 2003, Decoration Day was an abundantly compelling answer to the question of how a group follows the most ambitious album of their career. On 2001's double album Southern Rock Opera, Drive-By Truckers had delivered exactly that: a narration of the all-too-literal rise and fall of their heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd, through which they'd refracted a thoughtful — and highly rocking — examination of their heritage. The remit of Decoration Day, then, was just to be a great bunch of songs, and the album fulfilled it amply. "Hell No, I Ain't Happy" is a spectacular summing of the ghosts of Creedence Clearwater Revival, "When the Pin Hits the Shell" a characteristically literate Mike Cooley ballad. Best of all is "Outfit," a bleary farrago of father-to-son advice by Jason Isbell, nonetheless affecting for being so funny: "Don't sing with a fake British accent/ Don't act like your family's a joke." Wise words.