June 20, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Last year’s Southern Rock Opera is the album for which Drive-By Truckers will be remembered: a two-disc opus inspired by Lynyrd Skynyrd that doubled as a history of the post — Civil Rights-era South. Without such grand ambitions, their follow-up, Decoration Day, sags a bit under the weight of too many songs about life on the road. Still, when they stray from their Southern punk roots into the understated pop of ”(Something’s Got to) Give Pretty Soon,” the country accent of ”My Sweet Annette,” or the deeply felt balladry of ”Outfit,” it’s clear their vision of a proud blue-collar band is evolving.

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