Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance [Album Review]

by Woody on September 6, 2012

In discussing Drive-By Truckers with a friend a few years back, he made an observation: Cooley is the songwriter. Patterson is the storyteller. But for all the stories that Patterson has told over the years, very few, if any, have been about his life. There have been stories about Buford, Henry and many other characters – both fictional and real. But on Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, Patterson looked within for his inspiration and came out his best solo effort yet.

Born out of the effort of writing a book while on tour, the songs poured out. He was calling the book Slam Dancing in the Pews and it was “a half-assed fictionalization” of a very turbulent time in Patterson’s life. He had gotten divorced, moved to Memphis, fell out with his family, broke up with his band and fell in love – just to name a few things.

We got our first taste a couple of months ago with Come Back Little Star. Oz already provided the background for that tune so there isn’t a need to delve any deeper, but rest assured – it is one of top 10 tunes of 2012.

Better Off Without and After The Damage are both songs dealing with the same subject – the end of a relationship. Better Off Without is the angry song where Hood convinces himself of the better place he’s in now. Of all the songs, this one probably is the one that will sounds the most like DBT on the album. After The Damage takes a more humble approach, accepting some of the blame, exposing his soft underbelly. It’s a beautiful and heartfelt track that anyone who’s suffered a broken heart can relate to. And like on Come Back Little Star, Kelly Hogan’s backing vocals make my spine tingle.

Hood calls this album much more personal and stripped down than anything he’s done before. And while I’ve enjoyed Patterson’s first two solo albums, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance is by far his best. By allowing us a glimpse to some of his difficult times, Hood has penned of the best albums you will hear this year.

Patterson Hood feat. Kelly Hogan – Come Back Little Star by ATO Records

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