Drive-By Truckers have released their 12thalbum, “The Unraveling,” clocking in at nine songs, 42 minutes long.
Drive-By Truckers formed in 1996, and since then have seen much change in their lineup. However, they have remained true to their alternative-Southern rock roots.
“The Unraveling” features the token electric yet twangy guitar riffs, a rich kick drum to accompany the driving beats woven through all songs on the album, a supporting base and the raspy country voices of founding members and lead singers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley.
However, this isn’t your grandfather’s favorite classic Southern rock band. Drive-By Truckers have always been outspoken over social and political issues they see in today’s culture. This is more evident than ever in “The Unraveling.”
The names of some of these songs make a statement alone: “Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun,” “Armageddon’s Back in Town,” “Heroin Again” and “Babies in Cages.” The audience clearly knows before even beginning to listen to the lyrics that Drive-By Truckers are looking to exhibit their stance and views on current issues in the world.
Overall fairly melancholy, the lyrics to “The Unraveling” directly address the political divides, social issues and polarizing topics.
“Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun,” “Armageddon’s Back in Town” and “Slow Ride Argument” all deal with feeling unsettled, dissatisfied and unfulfilled by one’s circumstances.
“Thoughts and Prayers” focuses entirely on gun violence – specifically school shootings. It features lyrics such as: “When the carnage was over you could hear the cellphones ringing/You could smell gunpower in the air” and “They’re lined up on the playground, their hands in the air.” Later in the song, Drive-By Truckers sing “Stick it up your ass with your useless thoughts and prayers” taking a clear stance on current gun-rights policies.
“21stCentury USA” is an ode to the lives that the working class live in ordinary cities, possibly even small-town-USA. It features lyrics such as “Folks working hard for shrinking pay” and “If Amazon can deliver salvation, I’ll order it up on my phone.”
“Heroin Again” and “Babies in Cages” follow “21stCentury USA” and tackle hard problems in a very direct manner. “Heroin Again” centers around substance abuse and the emotions surrounding addiction. “Babies in Cages” focuses on the separation of parents and children at the border. With lyrics such as “And are we so divided/That we can’t at least agree/This ain’t the country that our granddads fought for us to be?/ Babies in cages” it forces the listener to immediately know the issue Drive-By Truckers wish to speak on, and their stance on the issue.
“Grieving Merchants” and “Awaiting Resurrection” both center on wanting freedom from the mundane clock in-clock out life.
“The Unraveling” is a compelling listen. It is completely feasible to listen to the album for its musicality separate from its lyrics, though they do complement each other to make an overall rich listening experience.
Rad Tracks: “Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun,” “Armageddon’s Back in Town” and “Grievance Merchants”
“The Unraveling” is available on all major streaming platforms.