Black Music Matters Festival

Old 97's

Blame It On Gravity – 2008 (New West)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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Perhaps the Old 97's have fallen off your personal music radar. If so, the group's new album - its first in four years and seventh overall - should snap you right back to full attention. This is a career highlight for the Texas quartet.

Produced by Salim Nourallah in his Dallas studio, the disc captures the camaraderie and joy of the longtime friends and an energy that was not really lost on 2004's "Drag it Up," but not in abundance nearly as much as it is here. Chestnuts abound. The gentle "No Baby I," from which the album title originates, includes clever/classic Old 97's-patented lyrics: "Here's a toast to no good Friday/I was bound to do it my way wrong/strum it on a Telecaster/sing it like a train disaster song." Speaking of trains, there's "Early Morning," a rowdy rave up that puts Bo Diddley in the engineer's seat and rolls right away. Murry Hammond's two folk-leaning contributions are delightful and well-crafted and fit in perfectly alongside the crunchy nugget "The Easy Way" and the album-ending "The One," which cleverly compares a band being courted by major labels to robbing a bank. An unforgettable effort, for sure, from the veteran group.