SONG PREMIERE: Drivin N Cryin Take a Walk On The Radiant Side With “What’s Wrong With Being Happy”

Drivin N Cryin is a rock ‘n’ roll institution. From their days as MTV-approved radio stars to their rebirth as DIY icons of the American underground, they’ve spent three and a half decades building a legacy grounded in sharp songwriting, southern stomp, and loud, life-affirming shows. Trends have come and gone. Bandmates have done the same. But Drivin N Cryin continues to hit the stage night after night, guitars in hand, amplifiers on full blast, delivering the soundtrack to a self-made rock & roll saga that’s ever-unfolding.

That saga reaches a new high-water mark with Live the Love Beautiful (out 6/21), the band’s first full-length album since their 2009 working-class rock opera, Whatever Happened to the Great American Bubble Factory. Produced by Aaron Lee Tasjan, the new record is an anthemic blast of full-spectrum rock & roll, with frontman Kevn Kinney singing about the troubled times of modern-day America; the trials and triumphs of an adulthood logged on the road; the benefits of appreciating the small things in life; and even the legacy of the Faces’ late keyboardist, Ian McLagan. Together, these 11 songs connect the dots between the sounds that have shaped Drivin N Cryin’s career since the beginning, mixing together the jangle of folk music, the weirdo textures of 1960s psychedelia, the punky slash-and-burn of old-school rock & roll, and the sweep of Kinney’s southern ballads.

Live the Love Beautiful also shines a light on the band’s revamped roster, with guitar hero Laur Joamets — an Estonian-born instrumentalist who first moved to America to perform with Sturgill Simpson, making his debut on the singer’s Grammy-nominated Metamodern Sounds in Country Music — recently joining the ranks of Kinney, bass-playing co-founder Tim Nielsen, and longtime drummer Dave V. Johnson. He’s a welcome addition, widening the band’s dynamic peaks and adding nuance to their quieter moments. The lineup may be revised, but the beating heart of Drivin N Cryin pounds just as hard today as it did in 1985, when Kinney and Nielsen played their first show together.

One thing that has changed, though, is the production. Decades removed from the gated drums that pulsed their way throughout Fly Me Courageous, the band’s most commercially successful release to date, Live the Love Beautiful captures the energy and electricity of DNC’s live shows. Most of these songs were captured in a series of live takes at Welcome to 1979 Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. The mood was spontaneous and creative. More importantly, it was brotherly. Tasjan was already a close friend of the band, having toured the country for two years as DNC’s guitarist following the departure of Sadler Vaden. He hosted some of Love Beautiful’s earliest songwriting sessions at his house in East Nashville and, months later, helped keep things flowing in the studio itself, encouraging the bandmates to plug in, turn up, and do what they’ve always done best: play together as a live band.

“Aaron knows me as well as I know myself,” says Kinney, whose voice — a mix of southern snarl, folksy croon, and rock-club rasp — remains just as a signature to DNC’s sound as their larger-than-life guitar riffs. “He knows what people are expecting from us, and he knows what we’re missing. I love his songwriting, his voice, the way he makes records… and I wanted him to make our record in whatever way he thought best.”

Glide is thrilled to premiere “What’s Wrong With Being Happy” (below) from Drivin N Cryin, a sweet but irony fueled anthem that combines Drivin N Cryin’s signature southern indie sound yet showing grace and progress towards a songwriting high peak. Like Guided by Voices, Drivin N Cryin, remain a band tried and true for their fan base, polishing their own creative path with its gritty directness, yet always remaining explosive and cratively unpredictable.

“What’s wrong with being happy Kevn?” reflects Kinny to himself about the song. “I usually argue with myself at this point .. that’s a huge question some days. But I try to remember simpler times .. when I had these goals .. and then I accomplished those goals, so I made more goals, and accomplished THOSE goals .. and so in and so on. But today I will STOP. Today I will enjoy what has been given to me. Today I will appreciate the friends and blessings and I think I’m going to try To just be…. Happy.”

Photo by Lisa Mac

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