For all intents and purposes, Patterson Hood is the Drive-By Truckers. While Murdering Oscar is indeed a solo effort, it’s difficult to separate anything Hood does from his position as DBT’s most prominent voice and prolific songwriter. And since Hood personifies the band, his songs will always be DBT songs, more or less.
There’s a point in every Drive-By Truckers show, somewhere beyond the two-and-a-half-hour mark, where sober audience members lose patience, both with the ever-increasing amount of jamming by the band and with the band’s hard-drinking, diehard fans, who invariably soak everyone within a 10-foot range in overpriced beer. In this trying and inevitable moment, one wonders if finally hearing “Shut Up and Get on the Plane” for the umpteenth time is worth the price of enduring such tedium. This is, unfortunately, the space where any of Murdering Oscar’s songs would fit comfortably. Although there are flashes of potential in the album’s 13 selections, the songs are all too long and rarely seem to congeal. With tempos slowed to a sub-rock ’n’ roll pace and a vocal style that becomes continually more grating with each turgid track, Hood raves on about tried and true themes: blue-collar existential angst, family, and coping with the responsibility of being a grown-ass man. Sadly, it seems that Hood has long since wrung himself dry of ideas.