Album review: Old 97’s, “Graveyard Whistling”

by Jon E. Lynch

Old 97’s, “Graveyard Whistling”

Available: Friday, Feb. 24 via ATO Records at your local independent record store. Also available as a digital download, compact disc, and on four different translucent (red, green, blue and clear) colored vinyl choices by visiting the band’s website.

Eleven records in, and one of alt-country’s stalwarts are still making more-than-solid albums. On “Graveyard Whistling,” the Dallas-based foursome returned to the very studio where one of their classic long-players was recorded. Perhaps the consistency is due to the original lineup being firmly intact. Vocalist and guitarist Rhett Miller, guitarist Ken Bethea, bassist Murry Hammond, and drummer Philip Peeples have been at it for more than 20 years. Whether they’re making those albums for Bloodshot, Elektra, New West or ATO Records is of little consequence. They may have slight variances from album to album, but at the core are catchy songs with twang, grit and punk sensibilities, played out with a wink and assured self-awareness. They sing songs about drinking, The West, women, the road and anything else I may have missed that goes along with that very road. The songs on this record fit perfectly alongside the well-worn (and played) classics in their ever-growing canon. Standouts are “Irish Whiskey Pretty Girls,” “Nobody,” “Those Were The Days,” and the single “Good With God.” If history is any indication, they are likely just as strong in a live setting.

The Old 97’s will be appearing live in Santa Fe at Santa Fe Brewing Co. on Thursday, April 6 a few short hours drive from here.

Recommended for fans of Drive-By Truckers, Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Son Volt, Slobberbone, or The Bottle Rockets

­— Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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