Published Feb 22, 2017Although they're regarded as vanguards of the '90s alt-country scene, Old 97's have had to bust their proverbial asses over the past two decades in order to amass their fan base, as 2014's Most Messed Up became their first LP to crack Billboard's Top 50.
Almost a dozen albums into their career, the Dallas band returned to the same studio they recorded their 1996 masterpiece Too Far to Care in for their latest, Graveyard Whistling. Over 42 unrelenting minutes, Old 97's hoot through 11 twangy tracks, rarely relaxing their stride; numbers like "I Don't Wanna Die in This Town," "Good With God" (a raucous duet between band leader Rhett Miller and singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile) and "Drinking Song" are all punctuated by the same quick-step drum beat.
But even when the quartet temper things on "She Hates Everybody," "Turns Out I'm Trouble" and "Those Were the Days," Miller still attacks his songs with a sharp-witted delivery. Similar to "Let's Get Drunk and Get It On" and "Ex of All You See" from their last album, Miller keeps things light and humorous on "Jesus Loves You" and "Irish Whiskey Pretty Girls." Entering the 'elder statesmen' portion of their career, Old 97's show no sign of mellowing out or pandering to their audience, making Graveyard Whistling a sort of stubborn achievement. (ATO Records)