By: Dennis Cook
Entering with lead flying, Patterson Hood's second solo outing picks up where the Truckers "Goode's Field Road" left off, and second cut "Pollyanna" also has the unmistakable ring of the Drive-By Truckers. So, one wonders what makes this a solo venture and not just DBT leftovers? The answer emerges slowly, perhaps on the fourth or fifth run through Hood's sophomore effort. The crux of it lies in the album's subtleties, overall demeanor (a touch more laid-back, rocking on its heels with a tired smile) and the crackle and space left in that the Truckers would cut out with a straight razor.
Where his first solo album, 2004's Killers and Stars (JamBase review), was a spare, one man pouring out his pain and musing at a kitchen table affair, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs) (released June 23 on Ruth St. Records) is largely a full band maneuver, including DBT drummer Brad Morgan and guitarist John Neff on most tracks. But, the prevalent piano and general wiggle room, along with Hood's soul man-ish delivery on a few pieces and a touch more wistful lyrical bent than usual, mark this as different than what he brings to his usual band. In many ways, this has the vibe of Ron Wood's '70s solo albums, where a wide range of flavors is sampled and curiosities likely uncomfortable in their day job get explored. The presence of Hood's buddy Will Johnson brings a neat, bubbling Centro-matic feel in, and that's always good news. It's damn fine music, though admittedly not nearly as quick to win one over as the Truckers' albums. This saunters where Hood kicks like a mule in DBT, but this dinged-up swagger suits him and further expands the scope of one of the best songwriters working today.