Album Reviews

Old 97’s – Hitchhike To Rhome

Artist:     Old 97's

Album:     Hitchhike To Rhome

Label:     Omnivore Recordings

Release Date:     11/17/2014

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The overriding impression formed from this welcome reissue of the debut album from the Old 97’s is that this band actually emerged fully formed. While that may have been clear on Hitchhike to Rhome the first time around, the bonus tracks that accompany this expanded edition —  half of them demos from their first recording sessions – show that even in their formative stages, Old 97’s had a clear handle on what they wanted to do and how they intended to accomplish it. Indeed, formative versions of “St. Ignatius,” “Drowning in the Days,” “Stoned” and “Dancing with Tears” — songs that later showed up in the album’s original incarnation, appear as polished and nuanced as they would later on, with nary a hint of uncertainty or tentative speculation. To the contrary, these songs – from the cynical set-up of “Making Love With You” (“I’m sick and tired of making love with you…it’s like getting the flu…”) to the obvious tears in their beers ballads like “Crying Drunk” and the aforementioned “Dancing with Tears” –suggest they had already mastered the mantra. A full 20 years on, they may be among the best and most revered Americana outfits out there, but even in the beginning, they were laying the foundation that would bring them that distinction. Appropriately, Hitchhike to Rhome suggests the journey was off to one superb start.

– Lee Zimmerman

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