I generally don't like to quote CD liner notes but there are times when it's appropriate. In trying to describe Patterson Hood's haunting solo album killers and stars it's absolutely essential to understand where and what it came from.

I recorded killers and stars, by myself in the dining room of the house I was living, in early March 2001. I had just gotten divorced, was fighting with the band (Drive-By Truckers) and a good number of my friends. I was feeling pretty freaked out and isolated and this album was my therapy.

None of the 12 songs are over five minutes (most fall around the three-minute mark), which is exactly what the material calls for. And speaking of the material, as you may have guessed, it's dark and depressing, the kind of music to use when you're drinking by yourself. Hood's rough, well-worn voice tells ominous stories of a frozen Uncle Disney, an assassin who can't kill anymore, a drunk wife, a transplant victim, and the clearly autobiographical-divorce track, "Miss Me Gone." The fact that Hood did the album himself, in his dining room does lead to a lack of production quality, but killers and stars actually fares better in this raw format.

For the most part it's just Hood, an acoustic guitar and his demons. There are songs where he has layered his vocals atop one another and added guitar, but this album is Patterson's open wound, not a vehicle for creative recording. Anyone who is vaguely familiar with Hood's band the Drive-By Truckers will recognize both the writing style, and the need to make music out of pain. In dissecting the work of Patterson in the solo acoustic format we find the same tortured southern soul who is responsible for some of the finest rock being made, just with less distortion. killers and stars was therapy for Patterson as he dealt with his pain. For those who use music in the same way, this one will be on repeat when dark skies hover overhead.

The Kayceman
JamBase | San Francisco, CA
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[Published on: 7/20/04]

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