Old 97's

Wreck Your Life

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While Old 97's second album, 1995's Wreck Your Life, continues the forlorn West Texas twang-a-billy that they pioneered with their debut, the sharp songwriting of vocalist Rhett Miller steps out to the forefront this time around. He weeps through the lovesick romp "Doreen" and chunks through longtime favorite "Big Brown Eyes" with a newfound poetic touch to the age-old traumas of love ("I'm callin' time and temperature just for some company," "You made a big impression for a girl of your size"). At the same time, it's hard to believe the barroom ballad "W-I-F-E" wasn't written by George Jones back in the late '50s. Supporting Miller's keening vocals is bassist and yodeler Murry Hammond, whose musical accents are understated, but without them many a song would fall flat. Well-chosen covers, including the Tex-Mex standard "You Belong to My Heart" and a stomp through "My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darlin'" that would do Bill Monroe proud round out the album, although a few songs near the end seem to lose steam. Nevertheless, Wreck Your Life contains some killer tracks and the band exudes an honest energy that would only improve on future releases.

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