“Everything I thought I wanted in this world has got me turned upside down”
Seven Mary Three’s day&nightdriving, their sixth album (and first for the Bellum/ICON label), represents a return to the band’s original motivation – to make music for themselves, unbound by expectations or constraints. The group, founded by singer/songwriter Jason Ross while a student at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA, released Churn in 1994, an album they recorded in the basement. The single, “Cumbersome,” picked up local radio airplay, leading to a deal with Mammoth Records, and a platinum-plus major-label debut in American Standard, for which they re-recorded most of the songs on Churn. That instant success was both a blessing and a curse, according to Ross.
“We were under a microscope right away,” he explains. “We hadn’t even decided on who we were and we were already being identified as this grunge-rock band.”
If Jason Ross is a grunge singer/songwriter, then so are Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Richard Buckner and Sam Beam of Iron & Wine. . On day&nightdriving, produced by Brian Paulson (Wilco, Son Volt, Beck, Uncle Tupelo and Slint’s influential cult classic Spiderland) Ross delivers a compelling set of songs that lives up to its dichotomous title. The album combines surging, dark, rock anthems like the first single “Last Kiss,” the ringing Gaelic guitars of “Was a Ghost” and the heavy swagger of “Break the Spell,” with the Americana roots feel of the country-flavored swamp stomp “Dreaming Against Me” and the twangy slide guitar on “Upside Down.” The album also boasts soulful contemplative songs like “Hammer and a Stone,” the after-hours drinking ballad “Strangely at Home Here” and the domestic meditations of “She Wants Results” and “Dead Days in the Kitchen.”
For those only familiar with Seven Mary Three from the hit “Cumbersome,” they will be surprised by the band’s new direction. It’s an album about reconciling a career in a rock group with home life, and balancing commitments to band mates with those of family, in a highly personal, reflective, yet raw and honest work.