Patterson Hood, "Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)"

73 Billboard Rating

This long-in-coming sophomore set from Patterson Hood, the prolific Drive-By Truckers frontman, hopscotches across time in a way that would make J.J. Abrams happy. It's grounded in tracks that predate the Truckers, songs that he wrote upon first moving to Athens, Ga., in 1994. But "Oscar" contains a few tracks (the bright "I Understand Now," one of Hood's cheeriest-ever moments, and the searing, black-hearted title track) that would fit right into the emotional bedlam of a DBT album. Others, like the Todd Rundgren cover "The Range War," show a sense of stretched-out adventure. Surprisingly, though, there's a warm sense of family, thanks to the wonderful lullaby "Grandaddy" and the hotel-room love song "Back of a Bible." The appearance of Hood's dad, legendary session man David, gives parts of "Murdering Oscar"-even within the Southern-rock storm and Hood's charcoal vocals-a sweet, possibly unprecedented sense of tranquility.

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