Far more than on any of the Drive-By Truckers previous albums, 2011 release Go-Go Boots rises like smoke from the old Muscle Shoals country-and-soul sound. Having recorded with Bettye Lavette and Booker T.Jones, and having spent a lifetime listening to classic soul albums by Bobby Womack, Tony Joe White, and especially Eddie Hinton, it was inevitable that the Truckers eventually produce this album.
We knew they were pin-your-ears-back rock and roll, but here in Go-Go Boots, the Tuckers are country, and here too, the Truckers are soul and rhythm and blues. It looks funny on paper – the words country/soul mashed up like that – but maybe in the end it comes down to this one shared ethos: the harder life gets, the more it calls for art, for music, for beauty – for the slow celebration of loss or pain that is mournfully, beautifully defiant.
Something undefinable has changed with the Truckers. They’re still rocking on, but a few more strands of lightness of being, and happiness have infiltrated their being. They’re happier. Do not hold this against them, nor worry that it will corrupt their blues and rock, their snarl and anguish. Instead, the happiness will continue to whet these things – the things for which their old fans love them. Theirs is an earned happiness, and therefore does not temper or weaken their sound. Indeed, this new light forges the sound – the rock. You can hear it in every chord. It’s their finest yet.