The album’s opening guitar riff to “Timebomb,” a jolt of jagged, countrified Rockabilly that would have both Billy Zoom and Merle Haggard nodding in approval, obliterates whatever image the photos might conjure almost immediately. The second song, the ache-laden “Barrier Reef,” finds the singer, who was actually 26 at the time, pimping his penchant for one-night stands (“My name is Stewart Ransom Miller/I’m a serial lady killer”) while the emotive twang from Ken Bethea’s versatile guitar playing undercuts the lyrics’ surface bravado. Eleven more songs follow, all playing off the first two in one way or another and all confirming that the Old 97’s were more than just another bar band from Dallas.The quartet, which also includes bassist Murray Hammond and drummer Philip Peeples, is celebrating the 15-year anniversary of Too Far to Care’s release with a tour that has them playing the album in sequential order.
OLD 97'S perform Friday, Feb. 15 at Southgate House Revival in Newport. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.