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OLD 97’S ★★★½ Album: “Graveyard Whistling.”Genre: Alt-country.Label: ATO.Online: Watch the band perform “Good With God” live on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” at http://bit.ly/2m7FttD....

Alt-country icons Old 97’s in peak form on ‘Graveyard Whistling’

OLD 97’S ★★★½ Album: “Graveyard Whistling.”Genre: Alt-country.Label: ATO.Online: Watch the band perform “Good With God” live on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” at http://bit.ly/2m7FttD....

Alt-country icons Old 97’s in peak form on ‘Graveyard Whistling’

OLD 97’S

★★★½

Album: “Graveyard Whistling.”

Genre: Alt-country.

Label: ATO.

Online: Watch the band perform “Good With God” live on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” at http://bit.ly/2m7FttD.

★★★½

Album: “Graveyard Whistling.”

Genre: Alt-country.

Label: ATO.

Online: Watch the band perform “Good With God” live on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” at http://bit.ly/2m7FttD.

The Old 97’s have been banging away at this alt-country genre since coming together in the early 1990s bar scene in Dallas, Texas.

“Graveyard Whistling,” the quartet’s 11th studio album, finds the band sounding more sure-footed than ever, even as it ponders some unusual subjects and situations.

There’s the narrator trying to compete with a well-known religious figure for a woman’s affection in “Jesus Loves You,” a man in love with a misanthropic woman in “She Hates Everybody” (“…but me”) who’s not quite sure if he’s lucky or unlucky, and a man who claims he’s “Good With God,” “but I wonder how She feels about me.”

Guest vocalist Brandi Carlile provides some answers from on high on that last tune that aren’t exactly reassuring.

Lead singer Rhett Miller guides us through most of these situations with his good-humored, ear-friendly tenor while the rest of the band, led by remarkable lead guitarist Ken Bethea, excel at fleshing out the band’s musical vision.

The surprising results of self-examination in “Turns Out I’m Trouble” would be nowhere as effective without Bethea’s spare, spooky guitar echoing behind Miller’s somber vocal. Nor would the sense of foreboding and paranoia over some unspoken past malfeasance carry as much weight on “I Don’t Want To Die in This Town” without finely honed ensemble support from the veteran band, which also includes bassist Murry Hammond and drummer Phillip Peeples.

“Graveyard Whistling” offers a winning mix of country and rock sensibilities, its steel and electric guitars hammering away side by side while lyrics evoke affable good humor and a sense of deepening dread with equal skill. In short, no one does alt-country quite like the Old 97’s.

The Old 97’s will play locally at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on March 29, and the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood on March 30.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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