Verdict: 4 / 5
On this, Patterson Hood’s third solo album away from his band Drive-By Truckers, we are presented with the American South distilled onto a CD and sold to us in a store. Patterson Hood (who has the most spectacular name a single person could have) not only weaves a narrative of his own life, he brings us the story of an entire society, and the lives of the simple, average people from Alabama.
This project initially began when Hood set out to write an auto-biography, but the efforts of that soon transformed into a complete production album, the genesis of which can clearly still be seen. Hood’s lyrics and themes right from the outset present a deeply conflicted life, one filled with regrets and mistakes of a life-like any other, but somehow far more intimate for its simple honesty. The first part of the album is definitely very melancholy, but not in an outright depressing way, more as though that it is a statement of how life simply is sometimes. The literary nature of the album is seen especially in (untold pretties), punctuated and written in that way, which is ultimately a spoken word song about a rambling narrative of life from his childhood.
The main time Hood abandons the personal storytelling of his own life is on Depression Era, a track about the period of history in America, but which is still somehow used to illustrate the problems and concerns of our modern lives. After this track, Hood finds himself uplifted more and more, and by Come Back Little Star, performed wonderfully with Kelly Hogan, the album is far more upbeat, and it is enjoyable to see that life’s good parts can be celebrated along with the bad.
Hood gives us an unadulterated account of his own life, and the honesty is attractive, as well as the fact that the Southern ambience he creates for himself on the album is incredibly pleasant to listen to. If your only experience of Southern Rock is Kings of Leon, you owe it to yourself to pick up this album; it is definitely one worth keeping and playing when you’re looking for just that perfect relaxed feeling.