Patterson Hood - Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs)
Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) has been a long time coming. Much of the new solo album from Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood was recorded in 2005.
Many of Hood's DBT colleagues pitch in to help on the album, as does their long time producer David Barbe. That probably explains why Murdering Oscar has the sound of a DBT record. For the most parts the songs are the same kind of gritty, blue collar and dirt road rock we hear from the full band.
The opening track "Murder Oscar" is a macabre southern rock grinder along the lines of DBT's "Sink Hole". The bluesy "Walking Around Sense" and "Heavy And Hanging", the methodical "Screwtopia", and the banjo singalong "Foolish Young Bastard" also bring that sound to mind.
There are a few moments when Hood strays from the DBT southern rock. The piano on "Pollyana" turns it into a head bopping old time rock n' roller. The weeping tribute to NYC "Pride of the Yankees" is more subdued than most of the Hood's repertoire.
Atypical of DBTs, Hood goes all out country on the twangy cowboy anthem "Belvedere". Ditto with the ballad "Range War". The rhythm guitar on "I Understand Now" evokes thoughts of early Tragically Hip.
I can't help but feel a small sense of disappointment listening to Murdering Oscar. Whereas many singers choose to use their solo albums to explore music that is different from their main project's, Hood really has made a slightly brighter Drive-By Truckers album. The songs are well crafted and well performed, but I was hoping for something a little more stripped down or in some other way more distinct from DBTs.
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