The Big To-Do
By Chris Homer
The Big To-Do, Drive-By Truckers’ 10th studio album and first for ATO records (out March 16), continues to add to the legacy of the Athens, Ga. southern rock mainstays. Like previous records, Patterson Hood crafts songs filled with desperation and outlaws that fans have come to love.
Similar to the Truckers’ previous efforts, The Big To-Do is rooted firmly in the southern rock guitar attack the band uses so well. Album opener “Daddy Learned to Fly” showcases this sound well, as chunky guitar riffs mix with shrill organ melodies. Likewise, “The Fourth Night of my Drinking” uses southern-fried guitar riffs with expertise.
While Drive-By Truckers’ last album, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, featured some straight-forward acoustic country numbers like “Two Daughters and A Beautiful Wife” and “Perfect Timing,” The Big To-Do has a much heavier rock influence, like the one that can be heard on the band’s Lynyrd Skynyrd-hailing double album Southern Rock Opera.
“After The Scene Dies” is guaranteed to please southern rock fans. The song tells the story of a dying venue with the help of some fantastic guitar solos and a blasting drum beat.
“This Fucking Job” is one of the hardest rocking songs the band has ever written and stands out as the most memorable track on The Big To-Do. An infectious guitar riff complements Hood’s voice on the track, which takes a hard look at the economic recession. With lyrics like, “working this job is like a knife in the back,” the song is sure to be a favorite of anyone who has suffered through an unfulfilling job.
“Get Downtown” also deals with unemployment and recession. The song features a rapid rock-a-billy melody that gives it a pleasant, rustic sound.
Shonna Tucker also gets another opportunity to sing and write a few tracks on The Big To-Do. The upbeat country-rock of “(It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So” and the tender piano driven melodies of “You Got Another” are a welcome addition to the album and show how Tucker’s songwriting skills continue to evolve.
Of course, a good crime story is always to be expected from Patterson Hood on a Drive-By album. The Big To-Do doesn’t disappoint in this regard – “Drag The Lake Charlie” and “The Wig He Made Her Wear” both tell stories of murder that would be at home among “The Boys of Alabama” and “The Buford Stick” on the Dirty South album. Musically, both songs are memorable thanks to the fuzzed-out guitar soloing on “Drag The Lake Charlie” and the simmering blues sound of “The Wig He Made He Wear.”
Overall, The Big To-Do marks a return to a harder rock sound for Drive-By Truckers from Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. After 10 albums, The Drive-By Truckers continue to please.