DRIVE BY TRUCKERS – ” Welcome 2 Club XIII “

Posted: May 31, 2022 in MUSIC

“Welcome 2 Club XIII”, Drive By Truckers the 14th studio album, marks a sharp departure from the trenchant political commentary of their last three records. A reckoning with the dualities of the things that make you alive and how they sometimes can kill you. A life affirming flashlight for the dark nights of one’s soul. The title track is a tongue in cheek homage to a local dive that founding members Cooley and Hood played in the early days. As they say in the song “Our glory days did kinda suck”.

As on the Drive-By Truckers’ terrific trilogy about growing up below the Mason-Dixon line – “Southern Rock Opera”, “Decoration Day” (2003) and “The Dirty South” (2004) – “Welcome 2 Club XIII” is a loose concept album, this time looking back at the years before their identity was fully formed. “Tonight we’re gonna be entertained by our favourite Foghat cover band,” Patterson Hood sings on the title track, recalling their indifferently received opening gigs as Adam’s House Cat, who get a name-check here.

Their seven-minute opener “The Driver” sets the tone as Hood opens an early tour diary filled with late nights, new towns and youthful optimism. But it’s not always fond memories: There are Klan sightings and hazardous icy roads along the way, and, drugs and booze take their toll in “We Will Never Wake You Up in the Morning,” a tribute to a late friend. “Wilder Days,” the album’s six-and-a-half-minute closing song, drops the Drive-By Truckers in the present day while tracing the line from before there were families to support – “we were invincible and unafraid” – to the life that now keeps them on the road for months on end: “The days are getting shorter and the years counting down, and the sun gets dizzy watching us as we go spinning around.”

Recorded quickly and with little fuss, “Welcome 2 Club XIII” sounds raw and weary, as if the past couple of years aren’t the only thing that’s weighed on the band; the decades have, too. When the Drive-By Truckers spring to life – the throwback “Shake and Pine,” Mike Cooley’s horn-abetted “Every Single Storied Flameout” – it’s a temporary salve. But they never sound defeated. “Have a seat and stay awhile,” invites Hood in “Forged in Hell and Heaven Sent.” They’re still in for the long haul.

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