What strikes you initially about Patterson Hood's solo album is just how stripped down it is - especially compared to the high-powered Southern rock-isms of his band Drive-By Truckers. It's this subdued, because Hood wrote and recorded it at a particularly low point of his life. "I had just gotten divorced, was fighting with the band and a good number of friends," Hood explains in the liner notes. It sounds exactly like a home demo, which is actually what it is.
And while it's not exactly pretty, it's nevertheless starkly honest and moving. Sometimes Hood seems to be speaking directly about himself, as he does with the father/son tension of "Rising Son." "Miss Me Gone" also sounds to be specifically about the end of his marriage. But on "The Assassin," he uses the story of a gun shy killer to express the utter helplessness he must have felt at the time. It's not all about Hood either, as a photo of "Frances Farmer" caused Hood to consider what her hard life must have been like, and "Uncle Disney" speaks of how "America's just a giant theme park" these days. Based upon what "Killers and Stars" reveals, you can color Patterson Hood mostly un-amused.