PORTLAND — Drive-By Truckers with special guests Old 97s will play at the State Theatre at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.

Far more than on any of the Drive-By Truckers’ previous albums, “Go-Go Boots” rises like smoke from the old Muscle Shoals country-and-soul sound. Having recorded with Bettye LaVette and Booker T. Jones, and having spent a lifetime listening to classic soul albums by Bobby Womack, Tony Joe White and especially Eddie Hinton, it was inevitable that the Truckers eventually produce this album.

Their music is pin-your-ears-back rock and roll. In “Go-Go Boots” the Truckers are country, soul and rhythm and blues. Many of the songs on this album will end up being favorites and it’s not fair to say one song’s better than any other, but the first Eddie Hinton song on this album – “Everybody Needs Love” – is awfully fine. The Truckers hardly ever cover anyone else’s songs, but here they’ve chosen two by their late friend Hinton.

There’s something else in these songs – happiness. Not joy, but the rare, more sustainable and enduring thing, a happiness earned by exploring the darkness, and surviving.

Something undefinable has changed within the Truckers. They’re still rocking on, but a few more strands of lightness of being, and happiness, have infiltrated their being. They’re happier. Do not hold this against them, nor worry that it will corrupt their blues and rock, their snarl and anguish. Instead, the happiness will continue to whet these things – the things for which their old fans love them. Theirs is an earned happiness, and therefore does not temper or weaken their sound. Indeed, this new light forges the sound – the rock. You can hear it in every chord. It’s their finest yet.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of show, all ages, and can be purchased in person at the Cumberland County Civic Center Box Office, by phone at 800-745-3000 and online at www.statetheatreportland.com/. The State Theatre is located at 609 Congress St., Portland.

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