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2023 Albums Thing 120 - Drive-By Truckers “A Blessing And A Curse”

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“A Blessing And A Curse” gets a bad rap. Among fans and particularly amongst the band it’s regarded as their worst album. Well just to be the ornery fecker that I sometimes can be, I’m not having that. It is in no way the equal of the 3 albums previous to it, but it is so far ahead of its follow up, “Brighter Than Creation’s Dark”, that it really does shock me the shade that gets thrown at this one.

This is the last album featuring Jason Isbell and although the band were struggling under their intake of drugs and booze and interpersonal difficulties (Isbell had married bass player Shonna Tucker) their fierce righteousness still manages to shine through the haze.

Isbell contributes just two songs, “Easy On Yourself” and “Daylight”, neither of which reach previous heights although the latter shines a light on what is to come from him when he soon goes solo. 

Cooley also contributes just 2 songs, “Gravity’s Gone” and the sublime “Space City”. It’s back to the themes of “Putting People On The Moon” from “The Dirty South” but this time the story of a man who is mourning his wife, it’s another Cooley heartstring tugger.

Patterson Hood supplies most of the songs, 7 in all, and, for me, he definitely gives us the highlight of “A Blessing And  A Curse” with “A World Of Hurt”. Over a measured Country backing track featuring John Neff’s wailing pedal steel guitar, Hood talks the lyrics to the verses laying bare his changing views on love and relationships as he’s grown older, getting more positive as he goes, starting with “Once upon a time, my advice to you would have been go out and find yourself a whore, But I guess I've grown up, because I don't give that kind of advice anymore” and finishing up on the much more optimistic “Remember, it ain't too late to take a deep breath and throw yourself into it with everything you got, It's great to be alive” those last 5 words being another of the Truckers defining phrases.

Following this albums release Jason Isbell left the band to forge his own (now very successful) solo career with his band the 400 Unit and for me the Truckers lost their way for a good few years. “A Blessing And A Curse” certainly ain’t no “Southern Rock Opera” or “The Dirty South” but there is treasure to be found in here

A World Of Hurt - https://youtu.be/LAW3oBQ-Nsg

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