Old 97’s “Graveyard Whistling” Will Make You Feel More Alive

This album is snarky and tender at the same time.

Old 97’s
Graveyard Whistling

Courtesy of ATO Records

Led by Rhett Miller, this weirdly consistent band has been pursuing its own sort of understated greatness with the same lineup since the ’90s. While the quartet’s sound suggests a typical alt-country approach, their smart, funny and thoughtful songs evoke a larger world of constant existential yearning, minus any tedious genre purism. Miller is an effortlessly charismatic singer who can be both snarky and tender in the same verse, whether attempting an unlikely come-on in “Jesus Loves You” (“He makes wine from water, but I just bought you a beer”) or clinging to moments of grace on “Those Were the Days” (“We ate some Jello, ate some Vicodin/And tap danced for the old folks”). Graveyard Whistling will make you feel more alive and more aware of your inexorable mortality at once.