CD Reviews for 03/16/08 – Drive-By Truckers, Caroline Herring

Compact Capsules for 03/16/08
by Dan Ferguson

Drive-By Truckers
Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
New West Records NW6135

The Drive-By Truckers’ latest is all about sprawl, 19 songs and 75 minutes to be exact. Not a band to ever hold back when it comes to shooting the wad, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark offers the many sides of the DBT beast from fuzzed-out Southern rock to country and stripped-down ballads to buzzsaws all tacked to songs with a working class spine to them. It also marks the emergence of bassist Shonna Tucker as singer and songwriter. In addition to taking lead on a couple of standout numbers, it’s her harmonizing with Messrs Hood and Cooley that truly hits the spot. Oh yeah, most valuable assist to Muscle Shoals vet Spooner Oldham on keys. (New West Records, 9215 Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90212, or

Caroline Herring
Signature Sounds Records SIG-2010

What is it about the songs, voice and music of Mississippi native Caroline Herring that makes her third album so compelling? Perhaps it’s the understatedness of it all, small-story songs sung in a plainspoken voice with its subtle touch of the South all set to a mostly acoustic backdrop. Label the ten songs comprising Lantana porch tunes of sort drawing equally from the culture of her Southern upbringing and life experience in the here and now. Expertly produced by Rich Brotherton (Robert Earl Keen Band) with he and some of Austin’s finest providing backing, Herring’s songs are an admirable lot taking us from “Song For Fay” which she contributed to last year’s tribute album to the late Southern writer Larry Brown to the murder ballad “Paper Gown” about Susan Smith to a cover of “Midnight On the Water” which is right there with the late Kate Wolf’s rendition to a striking version of the traditional tune “All the Pretty Little Horses”. Even with all its peacefulness, Lantana packs a quiet wallop. (Signature Sounds, P.O. Box 106, Whately, MA 01093, or

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)