Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Old 97s - Blame it on Gravity
Old 97's front man Rhett Miller used to be the new kid; a decade later he's still strumming away, seemingly more comfortable with the idea that a commercial breakthrough might not be in the cards. Maybe his lyrics are too clever. Maybe his western shirts show a little too much heart on their sleeve. Whatever the reason, Miller and the band seem to have moved on, growing gracefully into their elder status.
The Old 97's previous record Drag It Up, sounded half-hearted and no one, including the band, seemed to know if they were still a group. Meanwhile, Miller had started and stalled a solo career releasing one very good record (2002's, The Instigator) and a sophomore slump (2006's, The Believer).
More after the jump...
Blame It On Gravity finds the inspiration that Drag It Up lacked. The album’s crisp production supplied by fellow Dallas, TX artist, Salim Nourallah (who's own music deserves investigation), boosts the music's self-confidence.
The opening track “The Fool,” comes rattling out of your headphones. Drums, bass and guitar knock around while Miller sings over the shuffling beat - "He came from Phoenix in a borrowed VW Bug/To be somebody, or just somebody who came from Phoenix in a borrowed VW Bug…” Quickly following is the guitar-driven "Dance With Me" and the near-perfect pop stylings of "No Baby I". These three tracks make for a remarkable start - their smart blend of pop and country-rock recall the 1997 release, Too Far To Care.
The remaining tracks are a solid mix of different tempos - Miller & Co. does well to leave us with two standout songs. "Color of A Lonely Heart is Blue," sung by guitarist Murry Hammond, is a striking ballad that may be the best contribution Hammond has ever made to an Old 97's record. The last track, "The One", is a humorous narrative where Miller and the guys decide to "Take the money and run" - it brings the album to a proper close and shows perspective on a career worthy of admiration. While they may not have a van full of cash, hopefully they are finding enough encouragement to make more records like this one.