Drive-By Truckers has gone through some lineup changes in recent years. This has resulted in a minor change in the sound - namely because now there are two guitars instead of three - but this is a band that has remained pretty true to itself despite lineup changes.
One thing that definitely has not changed about this band is the songwriting abilities of both Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. Both of these guys have a way of creating vivid imagery and telling stories about characters that you'll swear you know. If you want a good example of the imagery created in a song, check out "Made Up English Oceans" which discusses the different ways people have of worshipping. These guys also have a way of creating anthems even if that's not the intent. "Pauline Hawkins" may be based on a Willy Vlautin, but it could easily end up being an anthem for everyone who doesn't want to feel tied down in a relationship. In this song, Hood sings things like "I'm nobody's baby / I won't let you cage me / or lock me away."
Patterson Hood is no stranger to speaking out about politics, but he sums up politicians as succinctly as anyone ever has in "The Part of Him." The story is that politicians will do whatever they have to do to get elected, and then ultimately will be replaced by someone else who will play the part and say all the right things. My favorite phrase in this song comes when Hood describes a politician (not any specific politician) as "indifferent to honesty." Truer words were never spoken.
Another standout song on this album is "Natural Light," mostly because of the saloon piano throughout the song. You wouldn't think that a saloon-style piano sound would go with the rock n roll of Drive-by Truckers, but the guys certainly make it work.
Cooley and Hood wrote these songs separately, but you'd never know just by listening. This is a really cohesive and really good album. Maybe the sound has changed slightly, but there is no doubt that this is a Drive-By Truckers album. If you're a fan of the band, this is one you should add to your collection.