Heat Lighting Rumbles in the Distance
Frankly, it's a relief to hear Patterson Hood backed by banjo, fiddle and acoustic strumming; the Drive-By Truckers frontman has hollered Southern Gothic tales over an electric-guitar army with such intensity for so many years, it's a miracle he hasn't flamed out. This third solo set was born of a shelved novel/song-cycle project. The hush magnifies its stories of family and fucked-up youth, and even the sketches deliver an emotional gut punch. "Leaving Time," a tour rat's ongoing farewell to his kids, and "After the Damage," a rueful duet with Kelly Hogan, sound like the birth of a sustainable sideline. Just make sure you keep rocking too, OK, dude?