The release of an animated lyrical video for Drive-By Truckers’ new song “Tough to Let Go” is a big change from the southern-hard rock band’s iconic sound. Perhaps the band is taking a softer approach to their style in their newest albums for the start of a new year.
In the video for “Tough to Let Go” simple sketches follow a stick figure with messy hair intertwined in the words of the lyrics. The song, and even the video, contains honesty, yet in a much more vulnerable, soft, and timid way.
A Different Side of Drive-By Truckers
The new song details lyrics with a quiet voice and lack of the raspy, twangy, and country edge. The band brings a different sound and overall lighter energy.
The song appears on DBT’s 13th studio album, The New OK, debuting on Oct. 2. It follows the release of the band’s first 2020 record, The Unraveling, in January.
If you didn’t know from the get-go who the song was by, it would be hard to guess. However, they still sing with great honesty and emotion, but with the faint sound of a less southern-rock vocal performance.
DBT Co-Founder Patterson Hood Takes a Look Inside
Drive-By Truckers’ lead singer Patterson Hood has a talent of combining a vocal ferocity in expressing sadness, heartache, anger, and humor through honest story-telling. The band can be picked out of the crowd by listening to the first three lines of a DBT song.
Patterson Hood’s deep country voice with a southern boy accentuated truthfulness makes Drive-By Truckers an extinguishable band among other southern rock groups. With his loud, strong, and raw voice, he and the fellows amped listeners up to trust the story being told and feel the authentic emotions Hood expresses with pure passion.
For fans, it’s well-known that Jason Isbell was a former member of the group before he went solo. Jason then created his own band, Jason Isbell and the 500 Unit, who’s gained great success. “Tough To Let Go” has a unique background story involving former Trucker, Isbell.
The Story Behind “Tough to Let Go”
“‘Tough To Let Go’ literally came to me in a dream. Ironically, in my dream, it was a Jason Isbell song. My wife and I were seeing him soundcheck in a great big arena. He and his band were working up this brand new song. I told my wife that his new song was great and sounded like a huge hit. Then I woke up and realized that it wasn’t anyone’s actual song, so I immediately wrote it,” Hood states.
“I even sent Jason a copy of the recording with some other songs to get his feedback. He said it was his favorite of the bunch. He assured me that it was indeed my song though,” he adds. “We recorded it in Memphis at Sam Phillips Recording Service. To me, the horns take it to the next level. I’m really proud of the video also.”
“The New OK is Not OK”
Hood describes the album The New OK as “this endless summer of protests, riots, political shenanigans, and pandemic horrors.”
The previous video for the album’s title track is much different and reminiscent of the typical deep southern-vocals and forceful nature in the lyrics. The video shows footage of a Black Lives Matter rally Patterson attended in Portland, OR. The lyrics, instrumentalism, story-telling aspect, and video footage show the DBT we’ve grown to love. It demonstrates the protestors being bombarded with tear gas, pushed and shoved by police officers, running from smoke bombs being thrown into the crown, and an overall chaotic scene. Hood says, “the new OK is not OK.”
“Tough to Let Go” looks more into the internal turmoil and issues of a person. The song covers the importance of internal reflection, rather than tackling the issues of the outside world.
The Truckers Touch on Both Peace and Protest
The album’s single sounds much more like DBT’s well-known tracks, which tell stories, with some even touching on activism aspects. “Never Gonna Change,” “Gravity’s Gone,” “Puttin’ People on the Moon,” and “Zip City Illustrated” are perfect examples of this fact. In fact, the last song listed is also animated, but with a much different interpretation than “Tough to Let Go.”
Patterson Hood and the Truckers took a different turn than normal with the lyrical video, creation, and performance of “Tough to Let Go.” It displays the less aggressive, relaxed, and softer example of what DBT can create, which may be what listeners need at this time.