Decoration Day

New West Records


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How in the Hell did they manage to pull this one off? There was no way to follow up Southern Rock Opera.  Right? WRONG! The Truckers have managed to one up S.R.O. with a stunning collection of songs that takes the grit they’ve always been so good at and mixes it with deeper character studies and personally revealing lyrics to create the definitive Truckers statement. From incest to suicide and all dark ports in between, the Truckers are at their best when times get tough. Live favorites like Patterson Hood’s rocking “Sink Hole” and “Hell No, Ain’t Happy” are finally caught in their ragged glory while Mike Cooley’s “Marry Me” deserves to be a classic rock anthem the likes of which haven’t been seen since the glory days of The Faces and The Stones. On Cooley’s other hand, the beautiful album closer “Loaded Gun In The Closet” paints a vivid portrait of an almost too real couple and makes you understand their very existence in a few short minutes. The biggest surprise here, though, is the contributions of new kid/guitar slinger Jason Isbell. His tunes fit like the final piece of a dangerous puzzle, right in between the stellar work of Hood and Cooley. Title track “Decoration Day” has as much legend, piss and vinegar as any Patterson track and “Outfit” is as heartbreaking a Southern man anthem as any of Mike Cooley’s heavy Haggard-like contributions. Of course, I can’t forget the always subtle and pulsing rhythm section of Earl Hicks and Brad Morgan. Without them, that triple guitar attack would just be insanity. When you add these airtight positives with the mood-altering pedal steel of special guest John Neff, the backup vocals of Lona’s Clay Leverett and the perfect production of David Barbe, you have what should be a masterpiece of Southern rock. So far, it's the best record of the year.  (P.O. Box 33156 Austin, TX 78764)

 Chris McKay/