Old 97’s are back with a new record, their first studio follow up to 2004’s Drag It Up and a couple of live releases. While Drag It Up contained two of their best and most rollicking songs (“Won’t Be Home” and “The New Kid“), it was overall an uneven and mostly mellow affair, a far cry from their usually uptempo and high energy sound.
Now, with the release of Blame It On Gravity, the Old 97’s are back in fine form. While there are no great standouts, such as the songs mentioned above, the majority of the songs on the album feature the uptempo, Telecaster twang that has been the band’s signature sound on albums past. Singer Rhett Miller has added a little more depth and emotion to his singing, perhaps influenced by his recent solo efforts. Also contributing lead vocals on a few tracks is bassist Murray Hammond. I’ve always been partial to Murray’s contributions on previous albums, such as “Up The Devil’s Pay” and “Smoker.” On the new album, he contributes perhaps one of the Old 97’s finest slow tunes in “Color Of A Lonely Heart Is Blue.”
It’s good to hear the band get back to it’s rocking alt-country roots on this album. While there are not many memorable lyrics to match those from such notable tunes as the Johnny Cash-inspired “Won’t Be Home” (I was born in the backseat/of a Mustang/on a cold night/in a hard rain) or “Barrier Reef” (My name is Stuart Ransom Miller/I’m a serial ladykiller), it’s still a solid effort and a promise of more good things to come from this seasoned Texas band.