Old 97's Too Far To Care
Ain't a Thang Without that Twang

If you're lookin' to hitch your wagon to that Uncle Tupeloffshoot thang,Old 97's Too Far To Care will get you there quicker. Among fellowInsurgent Country practitioners, Old 97's hunker down midtempobetween the Clash-ified Waco Borthers and the shoe-gazin'Whiskeytown. Drums (played way up in the mix) rumble through thisbatch of songs like a Lionel train set--anachronistic yeah, butreminiscent of a time when songs (and Christmases) were built from theground up. Rhett Miller's strong vocals can catch you off guard,especially in soaring choruses that sometimes upend the measuredverse. (Check out Broadway, where the one-word chorus is shoutedout the window from a closet-sized hotel room on selfsame street.) Thetwang is, mercifully, left to the guitars, and major-label guestwork (pedal steel, mellotron, Exene adding vocals on Four Leaf Clover) is prettyseamless. Subjects range from misguided roadside pickups (BarrierReef) to jittery couples fatalism ("I'm tired of you getting tired of me / Willyou sober up and let me down?" from Melt Show. If this all sounds a bitdown-at-the-heel, their recent collaboration with Waylon Jenningsseems to have leant the band enough outlaw moxie to carry it off.

--Dale Simms
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