Southern Rock Opera established Drive-By Truckers as the voice of contemporary Alabama and Georgia. Further remarkable albums such as Decoration Day showcased a remarkable triumvirate of voices writing for one band. Of course it all imploded, in particular with the departure of young turk, Jason Isbell. At the core of it all remained main man Paterson Hood, spawned out of the Southern soul dynasty around Muscle Shoals. Yet these days a certain democracy surrounds the band’s output. Co-founder Mike Cooley penned a substantial raft of songs for their latest album, English Oceans. Hood says: ‘I don’t think we’ve ever had a record where Cooley was as deeply involved in every aspect of the making of it as he was this time. With Cooley’s writing, there’s almost no precedent for it in our catalogue. He came in with this stunning bunch of songs, full of this beautiful imagery.’ Expect Oceans to form the deep swell of their upcoming Ritz gig. It’s a venue made for their live show, unleashing a guitar onslaught alongside some delicate literate evocations of their Southern heritage, warts and all (we are beyond Lynyrd Skynyrd broad brush strokes here). The boys from Athens, Georgia delve deep into their roots with a more direct rock line-up than previously without compromising what went before. But let’s let Hood have the last word: ‘Sometimes things just work. This time, we made kind of a magical record. I’ve always felt that Decoration Day was our best record, and this is the first one that I think is a better record than that was. Every piece of the puzzle fits.’

Mon 12 May, The Ritz, Whitworth Street West, Manchester, M1 5NQ, Tel: 0161 236 3234, 7pm, £21.50,

Mon 12 May
Neil Sowerby
Published on:
Tue 6 May 2014