Old 97’s – American Primitive

The reliable Old 97’s prove once again that they’re alt-country for everyone with 'American Primitive'....
Old 97's : American Primitive
8.0 ATO
Old 97's : American Primitive

In hewing away from the flat, even caricature of itself that is ‘new country’, alt-country can often veer too old, too sad, reaching back for some imagined authentic past. But country, whatever their style, can be also fun & more, and usually that’s what lasts in the long run. Like the reliable Old 97’s, who prove once again that they’re alt-country for everyone with American Primitive.

Despite their age (this is their thirteenth full-length, after 2020’s TwelfthQRO review), Old 97’s reach back into their garage days for much of Primitive. “Honeypie” channels frontman Rhett Miller’s wry humor, while “This World” is a young kiss-off, and “Masterpiece” is a party amidst everything falling apart. And it’s not all good times, such as the actual falling down of “Falling Down” opener, which channels some Spanish fuzz (while the album closes with the Spanish guitar instrumental “Estuviera Cayendo”) – the western noir of the title track could almost be over the decimated West of the new Fallout series. Oh, and they team up with none other than R.E.M. legend Peter Buck for the sweet & touching single “Where the Road Goes”.

Country can be a bit of a daunting genre for the majority of folks who’ve never lived on the prairie (and don’t dream to), and a long-running act like Old 97’s can seem like they’ve been around too long for you to get into. But alt-country can be fun & more, and it’s never a bad time to get on the Old 97’s wagon.

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