Drive-By Truckers - English Oceans (ATO Records)

Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans (ATO Records)

English Oceans the latest studio album by Athens, Georgia stalwarts Drive-By Truckers, released through ATO records which took an impressive thirteen days to finish. Writing duties are shared between Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley which gives this a fresh outlook.

Since their formation in 1996 and their début album in 1998, Drive-By Truckers have been busy touring and releasing albums. Previous records include Southern rock opera, the Dirty South and Go-Go Boots to name just a few.

Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley are the co-founders of DBT and have both stated English Oceans could be the best work they have done since Decoration Day. Let us see

‘Shit Shot Counts’ is the opening track starts with a country rock guitar riff and southern drawl vocals, a great start to a new album where they have gone back to basics to put on a great rock n roll album.

‘Primer Coat’ and ‘Pauline Hawkins’ two tracks that have the effortless guitar riffs that is mellow rock n roll. Chilled out vibes that won’t get the neighbours to ask you to turn down that noise. Their structure of lyrics is to be followed intently, many can learn from their talent.

Highlight of this album is ‘Made up English Oceans’ which changes the dynamics of the record with a different flow. This is gentle but dark, a repetitive beat that would be heard on the long walk to the hangman’s noose. “Once you grab them by the pride their hearts are bound to follow” a fictional story of Lee Atwater the Republican operative during the Bush – Reagan campaign.

One of the facts on this album is Mike Cooley sung one of Patterson Hood’s written tunes – ‘Til He’s Dead Or Rises’, this is something they have never done before. Frustration was creeping in and Hood mentioned to Cooley that this song sounds like something he could sing, so they went ahead and gave it a go.

‘Hanging On’, a mellow acoustic set up, adds a twist to English Oceans which is about contemplating life, while sitting on the roof to smoke a few. “Is there any wonder that the darkness pulls you under” a perfect song that if caught life is the song that the audience bring out their lighters to shine in the darkness. It is an emotive song that captures the essence of trying to keep a grip on life and hang on.

Drive By Truckers have continuously put out records that hit the spot for their fans, a long career has held them steady in rock n roll. At times on this album nothing new penetrates the ear, and then a stinger comes on, such as ‘Made Up English Oceans’ and the beautifully dark ‘Hanging On’. This is a band of storytellers where their words are made to come alive.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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