12:01 - Patterson Hood

from the album Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance (2012)

Although it is November, I am pretty confident that Heat Lightning Rumbles Across The Distance will be my pick for Best Album of 2012.  Patterson Hood has made a record that connects with me on too many levels to describe.  I've spent the past few nights trying to dissect it, and the songwriting and storytelling are what separates this album from the rest.

The other thing that these songs have is space.  This space allows listeners to appreciate the lyrical imagery and the fantastic tone of the instrumental performances.  It also allows the textures of Patterson Hood's imperfect vocals to express a sincerity that is uncommon in most recordings.  One of my music pals called this "a poor man's Wilco."  But this album touches me more than any Wilco album. I dig it that much.

12:01 kicks off the record.  It is a tale about hitting the liquor store just after midnight, when the Sunday blue laws expire. The lyrics grab me by the throat.

It's 12:01
The rain and wipers play a spooky song
As I cross the O'Neal Bridge and Colbert County line
To where the liquor laws are different

It's 12:01
The zombies are buying liquor because its Monday morning
And I'm sitting in the parking lot as they flip the sign
And I always see some friends as I stand in line
And I head to Billy Ringo's and I'll stay there till dawn
To where the music's always playing, I'll take his banjo and strum along
To chase away the morning

Again, it is the space in the music leaves me hanging on every word, every note, and all the incredible tones.  The Wurlitzer electric piano, the fiddle, the hi-hat and snare, and the scratchy vocals combine to perfectly tell the tale.  It is songwriting and performance at their best. Somewhere in heaven, Levon Helm is smiling.

Click Here for a live version from this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park.