guitarist and singer Patterson Hood
wrote much of his second solo album, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
(ATO), while trying to finish his first novel, which was supposed to tell the story of a rough patch in his life: in the early 90s, when he was 27, his band broke up, he got divorced, he moved to Memphis, his car was stolen, and he fell out with his family. Hood envisioned the book's chapters interspersed with lyrics, and when the novel stalled, the songs kept coming—so he ended up making this record instead. His lyrics, far from his usual character studies, are full of details of his own life—in "(Untold Pretties)" he reads an excerpt from his unfinished book to sparse accompaniment, reminiscing about his grandfather and making some painful observations about himself. Elsewhere he deals with domesticity and its undoing: "Leaving Time" is a temporary farewell song with a message he's probably delivered before dozens of tours, "Better Off Without
" describes the familiar situation of wanting someone or something that's bad for you, and "Come Back Little Star
" is a plea to a lover or an ex to not let a relationship die. Most of the arrangements, in stark contrast to Hood's work with the Truckers, are skeletal and sedate, with an appealingly unfinished quality that enhances their air of intimacy. For these shows Hood is supported by drummer Brad Morgan and pianist Jay Gonzalez from the Truckers as well as cellist Jacob Morris; all three play on the record. —Peter Margasak Hope for Agoldensummer opens.