The Drive-By Truckers’ fifth studio album, The Dirty South (coming in August on New West), is primarily a collection of gangsta tales–but we’re a long way from Goodie Mob or OutKast. These stories are told from a poor white perspective: In “Puttin’ People on the Moon,” written by singer and guitarist Patterson Hood, a factory worker is laid off during Reagan’s recession and turns to crime; by the time Dubya’s recession rolls around, his uninsured wife has died of cancer, and he resigns himself to working at Wal-Mart. Hood’s voice is so stripped of self-pity that his cold-eyed conclusion–“I wish I’s still an outlaw / Was a better way of life”–elevates the song to the level of the bleak populist parables on Springsteen’s Nebraska. Hood’s certainly the type to swat history’s golden myths off their shelves, but unfortunately his bandmates aren’t: Mike Cooley’s ass-kissing “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” and Jason Isbell’s archetype-bronzing “The Day John Henry Died” are both tangled in the kudzu of the past. On Cooley’s “Where the Devil Don’t Stay,” though, these woolly southern rockers kick into the sort of fierce, Skynyrd-worthy boogie they’ve previously only threatened, and it seems like they could probably shake free of anything. This show is part of the FitzGerald’s American Music Festival; admission is $20, $5 for kids under 12. See Fairs & Festivals listings for the full lineup. Saturday, July 3, 11:30 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Adam Smith.