Seven Mary Three

Day & Nightdriving

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Long out of the spotlight and too square to be considered for "That's the '90s!" nostalgia fests, Seven Mary Three keep rolling along, turning out albums every few years, eventually winding their way to their sixth album, 2008's Day & Nightdriving. Those who haven't paid attention since "Cumbersome" may be surprised to find that the group no longer sounds like Pearl Jam (of course, Pearl Jam doesn't quite sound like that anymore, either) -- when the volume ratchets up, there is still a bit of a groaning lurch to their rock, but this is a warmer, mellower band, one that wears its experience well. Day & Nightdriving is a burnished collection of country-rock stripped of alt-Americana pretensions and rounded out by introspective rockers that belie the group's age. Seven Mary Three are older in the best sense: they have learned songcraft and there's a lived-in soulfulness to their performances, two crucial elements missing in their overly earnest early records. This is an emotional progression married to a gradual musical maturation; Seven Mary Three are still totally, completely children of the '90s. They still specialize in classic rock moves tempered by gliding open chords pulled from '80s college rock, but they don't feel stuck in the past; they feel like they're steadily working at developing their music. This can occasionally lend their music a bit of a workmanlike feel -- there's a doggedness that keeps this earthbound at times -- but Day & Nightdriving is evidence that Seven Mary Three are slowly, surely getting better as they're getting older.

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