The Drive-By Truckers' latest contains much material that was written around the time the band was prepping for "The Big To-Do," yet they describe this album as "a noir film" compared to the last go around.
Regardless, there is a slightly darker tone to some songs like the opener I Do Believe despite oozing with a sweet pop roots feel and sounding like a long lost relative of Calexico. From there, the band slows things down with the extremely groovy and bluesy title track in the vein of Neil Young or Tom Petty.
Perhaps the first real gem comes with bassist Shonna Tucker sings lead on Dancin' Ricky, a performance that would give Neko Case a run for her money. But even this pales somewhat compared to the deliberate Ray's Automatic Weapon, which has some fine, yet subtle guitar work. Unfortunately Everybody Needs Love doesn't quite measure up, sounding a bit more like filler than a real jaw dropper.
Two songs also seem to be joined at the hip in terms of both being up-tempo toe-tappers. Cartoon's Gold and The Weakest Man don't set the album ablaze, but they seem like core parts that enable Patterson Hood and company to work around. This is particularly true of the homestretch with two lengthy numbers with The Fireplace Poker being the keeper of the duo.
Side two definitely comes off as darker and more reflective and by the time The Thanksgiving Filter begins, one gets the sense Drive-By Truckers have put on their go-go boots not to dance, but to get out of some bad situation. Overall, it's a song or two too long, but well worth multiple listens.