On the cover of ‘Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance’ the third solo album from Patterson Hood, the Drive-By Truckers singer is looking into a mirror perhaps because this album takes a reflecting look at his past. Lyrically it comes from a turbulent time just after the break-up of his first band and a marriage and just so you know what territory you are in opening track ‘12:01’ set the mood by telling tales of crossing county lines to go ‘Where the liquor laws are different’. In fact alcohol plays a big part here in the stories of relationships and situations that Hood so vividly describes, in the brutally honest ‘Betty Ford’, a standout track, he sings ‘the sun shines through the window for the fifteenth time this year, you’re lying on the concrete in the same dress that you wore to the party’. Ranging from folk to alt-rock it obviously has hints of his current band, most of them are on here, but it also brings to mind the last two albums by Richmond Fontaine ‘We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River’ and ‘The High Country’ as well as Vic Chesnutt. Kelly Hogan shares writing and vocal duties on their tribute to the late singer ‘Come Back Little Star’ with her voice sitting above Hood’s southern drawl, it works well and they use it again on ‘After The Damages’. Single note piano parts, banjo and spoken word are all utilized to great effect and of the twelve tracks here there really isn’t a weak one amongst them. What was clearly a very personal project and a catharsis of sorts could have turned out somewhat depressing given the subject matter but surprisingly it ends up a quite uplifting affair and one which rewards you with each listen. This overall feeling of light in the darkest places is down to the talent of Hood and his writing and in a much better place now he can be proud that he has made one of the albums of the year.