(New West Records)
Recorded at David Barbe’s Chase Park Studios in Athens, Georgia, A Blessing And A Curse marks The Drive By Truckers’ 7th studio release. A Blessing And A Curse captures a signpost in the Truckers’ career. It was the last album for Jason Isbell, who had made critical contributions to the Truckers previous two releases, Decoration Day and The Dirty South.
Perhaps reflecting this impending change, this album sounds as if each individual songwriter brought his compositions to the band as opposed to some collective effort. As a result, it’s a solid, 11-song album that adheres to more of a rock and roll format than their previous releases.
Patterson Hood’s “February 14” opens the disc with the obligatory love-wilted rocker that will transfer well to a live audience. Mike Cooley’s “Gravity’s Gone” is worth the price of the CD. His songwriting continues to stand as the most formidable between Hood and Jason Isbell these days. Isbell’s mercurial “Easy On Yourself” follows and indicates less of a Truckers sound. Hood’s “Goodbye”, a mid-tempo ditty, proves atmospheric complete with side-winding guitar twangs.
“Wednesday” finds the Truckers speeding along in some speed-freak pace—pedal to the metal. “Little Bonnie”, an acoustic country number reveals the band continues to remain versatile. Cooley’s “Space City” contends as one of the deepest and strongest of these 11 cuts. The title track paints a dark picture of trade-offs one must endure to achieve an end…no matter the goal.
“A World of Hurt”, another Hood spoken word song, completes the disc and sums up this release. A Blessing And A Curse finds The Truckers at a crossroads. The segregated feel of these songs almost indicates the chaos about to descend on the group. As it turns out, considering that this would be Jason Isbell’s last stand with The Truckers, A Blessing And A Curse warns a change is at hand…