Well, we’re finally here…Brighter Than Creation’s Dark finally gets its official release. Over the past 6 months I’ve posted track listings, live versions of the songs on said track listing, cover art (much to the chagrin of the band) and album streams.
How will Jason’s departure effect the cd? Will the album live up to the build-up or are we gonna end up with another A Blessing and A Curse? Shonna’s gonna sing? How’s that gonna work out? These were my thoughts last month as I put the cd in my stereo for the first time.
The first few times through I was only lukewarm on the album. I think this happens anytime I listen to something new from a band I really love. I’m the same way with people, leery and mistrusting until I get to know them. The album is definitely a grower though. Within a few listens, I was falling in love with tracks like “Perfect Timing”, “A Ghost to Most” and even the Shonna-fronted “I’m Sorry Huston”. “Daddy Needs A Drink” is probably one of the 5 best songs the band has ever recorded. Also, I can’t help but to think of how well Jason’s “Hurricanes and Hand Grenades” would have sounded following Cooley’s “Checkout Time In Vegas”, a song that features the Hunter Thompson-esque opening lyrics of, “Bloody nose, empty pockets, rented car, a trunk full of guns,” and has a distinctive classic country feel to it, as does “Lisa’s Birthday”.
Then, as with any good record, I got the second wave, which is where I start to realize how good songs I was originally indifferent to really are. Patterson’s diary of an opener, “The Opening Act” really fits that bill, and Shonna’s backing vocals put this song over the top for me. Even “Home Field Advantage”, a song I really didn’t even like at first, has grown on me over time. All isn’t peaches and cream though. I thought “Bob” was juvenile when I heard it on the Dirt Underneath bootlegs and the studio version has done nothing to change my opinion, and then there’s “You and Your Crystal Meth”, a song originally left off A Blessing and A Curse that should have suffered the same fate here. Finally, while “The Man I Shot” has fantastic music, Patterson’s lyrics just don’t hold up.
The band has said they didn’t intend for the album to come in so long (19 tracks, 79 minutes), but when it came time to whittle the album down they felt it was interconnected as one larger work and found it hard to trim anything, and I’m okay with that. I mean, I hate “Bob”, but I’ve already seen a review noting it as a standout track, and it’s not like putting out a 10 track album is any cheaper than a 19 track album once the tracks are recorded. I imagine everyone would agree that the album could have been a lot better and more focused had they cut 5 or 6 songs, but I doubt you could easily get a general consensus on just which tracks those should be.
In the end, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark finally allows me to view A Blessing and A Curse as a mere bump in the road instead of the beginning of the end, and it’s Essential Listening for sure.
As a side note, I would like to pen an op-ed. I forget who said it, but recently a reviewer criticized Patterson’s song writing….calling him a messy draftsman and a journeyman with hooks and melodies. Basically he called Patterson a shitty song writer and I’d like to take a moment to state my views on that….Cooley is a songwriter and, IMO, a fuckin’-a good one, but Patterson…he’s not. Largely, he never has been….Patterson’s more a storyteller, and as a storyteller he’s never been much for sacrificing words for a hook. I could see where that might be troubling for some people, but I think anyone who has Great Uncles and Grandfathers who spin yarns on the front porch during family functions knows a storyteller or two.