Original Soul

This time, it's personal: Our look back at an intimate year in music.

The return of Southern rock
"Don't worry 'bout losing your accent/A Southern man tells better jokes," Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell's dad reassures him in "Outfit," a heart-rending tale from Decoration Day, the Alabama group's tremendous fifth album. This year, Southern men did more than just joke -- they wore their hair more bravely (Kings of Leon), used reverb more extravagantly (My Morning Jacket) and remembered Vietnam more thoroughly (Brooks & Dunn) than anyone else, too. The scene has so far proved resistant to opportunistic trucker-hat dilution. Don't hold your breath for 2004, though. -- M.W.

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