I've argued that Drive-By Truckers — the definitive post-Southern-rock Southern-rock band — haven't been the same since parting ways with Jason Isbell, and their previous two releases serve as spotty Exhibits A and B. This ninth studio album finds long-timers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley regaining their focus with their best set of narratives since 2006's A Blessing and a Curse. The songwriting's surgical focus is nothing new (Hood delves into characters; Cooley smuggles universal truth into one-liners), but the thirst for deep-rut Southern grooves is particularly insatiable this time out. Go-Go Boots is a "vibe" record for sure — you could call it Muscle Shoals derived, or the final realization of the country-soul sound the band have been flirting with for years, but to me it simply sounds lived in. From the snaking slide guitar that weaves its way through the Jesus-sleaze title track to the rich acoustic palette of "Cartoon Gold" and the surging cover of Eddie Hinton's country-fried R&B anthem "Everybody Needs Love," this stuff taps into a full array of American music lineage — effortlessly and naturally, like it ain't no thang. Released concurrently is The Secret to a Happy Ending, a DVD documentary that details the ups and downs of rock-band life, including that all-important dirt underneath.