The Big To-Do is the highly anticipated, recently released album by Drive-By Truckers. The album is solid and Trucker fans will not be disappointed. However, there were a few surprise on this album that seem a bit of a departure from their previous work.
The absence of Mike Cooley was the first thing I noticed when I listened to the album. Mike Cooley covers lead vocals on three songs and is sorely missed on the album. This is not a shot at the album but merely noted in deference to the greatness of Cooley’s calm, self assured vocals and considerable songwriting skills. His voice is as recognizable as Hood’s but is diametrically opposed in cadence, timbre, and texture. He contributes three songs and on Birthday Boy, he is a layer or two behind the music. Not the norm for his work and a little disappointing for all of the Cooley fans out there.
This is the first release since the departure of guitarist Jason Isbell. While the Trucker’s still have their three axe attack, John Neff does not contribute at the level of Jason Isbell. In addition to being one of three guitarists, Isbell was a strong contributor to the songwriting; he wrote and sang quite a few of the stand out songs from their catalog in the 00’s. Musically they are still exceptionally tight but just not breaking new ground with this album.
Shonna Tucker, the Trucker’s bassist, contributes two solid tracks. Her playing has always been extremely competent. This is her second album where she contributes lead vocals for tracks that she wrote. I think that Tucker’s contributions are an exceptional high light of the album. Her songs tend to be bathed a bit with a stylized country sound. You can almost picture her in a small, local bar singing to the swaying, two stepping couples after last call.
This album is heavy on Patterson Hood’s musical and vocal offerings. Of the thirteen tracks, he wrote the lyrics and covers lead vocals on seven. I am a huge Patterson Hood fan and I find his satirical writing style to be a refreshing escape from some of the worn out topics of other current musical acts.
Stand out Tracks:
- The Wig He Made Her Wear
- The Fourth Night of My Drinking
- Eyes Like Glue
- You Got Another
- Drag the Lake Charlie
Great music awaits!