Last time Drivin' N' Cryin' came through town, they were looking back on their career with a two-night retrospective at Tybee Post Theatre. This time the band are looking to the present with a new album, “Live the Love Beautiful,” and an anticipated show at Victory North.
Formed in Atlanta in 1985, Drivin' N' Cryin' built a reputation as one of the South’s best hard rock/folk bands with electrifying live sets, classic albums like “Scarred but Stronger” and “Mystery Road," and unforgettable songs like “Straight to Hell” and “Honeysuckle Blue.” The band were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2015 and are still touring hard 34 years on.Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and food newsletters
For the past ten years, Drivin' N' Cryin' have been regularly releasing new material in the form of EPs, but somehow people didn’t seem to notice, so the band decided to record a new full length album instead.
“It's interesting. I kind of did it to bring up this very conversation,” said Kevin Kinney, singer and guitarist for Drivin' N' Cryin'. “It’s only four songs more than an EP, but it seems like an ambitious venture for some reason...When the band does an EP, it kind of gets dismissed.”
Kinney laments that the four most recent EPs they recorded were not being validated. He had hoped that he and the band could continue in the EP format indefinitely.
“When I was a kid I liked 45s. I bought a 45 of a band, I would listen to it over and over and over. Even the Beatles and Rolling Stones all had 45s and that was good for me. Somewhere along the line Sgt. Pepper [expletive] came out and ruined everything for everybody. Everybody has been trying to make [expletive] Sgt. Pepper for 50 years...Most of your favorite albums have a couple stinkers on them. So, it’s a huge responsibility for me to try to make an album. I think the story arc is a lot more fun in the short story format of an EP, but this one I didn’t have the energy to figure it out, so that’s why Aaron Lee Tasjan did it.”
Thanks to stellar production by Aaron Lee Tasjan, Kinney and the rest of the band don’t have to worry about the quality of “Live the Love Beautiful.” Every song on the album is excellent, without a single dud among the nine songs. Kinney has described Drivin' N' Cryin' as sounding like your record collection and that has never been truer than on the new record. The songs stylistically cover a wide range of textures and genres like psychedelic, Southern rock, and jangle-pop.
“He did a fantastic job on it,” Kinney said of Tasjan. “I think I picked the right director for the film...I wrote some chapters and put it together and Aaron edited it and produced it. It really is Aaron’s record.”
Kinney and the band recorded their tracks and then let Tasjen piece everything together into a dynamic and beautifully produced album. “It’s very hands-off,’ said Kinney. “It took me awhile to be hands-off...It’s hard for an artist or let somebody else touch their thing, but you really have to trust them.”
Just because Kinney took his hands off of the wheel a bit for “Live the Love Beautiful” doesn’t mean that he didn’t pour his heart and soul into it. Lyrically, the songs are some of the most personal and introspective Kinney has written in years. Kinney attributes this to approaching the record as though it is the band’s last—at least with him as the driving force and main vocalist. In the future he would like to hear the rest of the band sing on the records.
“I took it very seriously,” said Kinney. “Usually people make albums just so they can tour. I’m not going to waste this piece of art just so I have an excuse to tour. That’s not what this one’s about. This one’s about writing a good book.”