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Old 97's 'Blame It On Gravity': Taut and Delicate

Formed in Dallas, the Old 97's were long pigeonholed as an alt-country band. They never were--just a rocking quartet with a terrific songwriter up top named Rhett Miller. They've just put out their best album in seven years. Blame It On Gravity is noticeably more taut and focused than their earlier albums--more delicate, too. Robert Christgau wonders whether, as with so many songwriters before him, Miller's personal pain has picked up his game. In these post-Tin Pan Alley days, most good songwriters play with the first person so it's impossible to know what's life and what's art--that's part of the power of the form.

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Robert Christgau
Robert Christgau contributes regular music reviews to All Things Considered.