CD Review of Day&Nightdriving by Seven Mary Three
Recommended if you like
Pearl Jam, Collective Soul, Three Doors Down
Label
Bellum/Icon Records
Seven Mary Three:
Day&Nightdriving

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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You were my first mistake, and even if that’s true, I would take that punch again if it would bring me back,” murmurs an ultra-resilient Jason Ross as he comes clean and looks to start anew on the opening track of Day&Nightdriving, Seven Mary Three’s sixth album in an unstable 14-year career. Once poised for greatness on the FM-ready coattails of Pearl Jam and others, 7M3’s 1995 debut exploded with potential when “Cumbersome” became an instant post-grunge classic. But once Matchbox 20 surfaced on the same Orlando, FL streets where Ross and his boys were trying to make a name, it was only a matter of time before the landmark Yourself or Someone Like You would make the locals – and everyone else – forget they ever heard of Seven Mary Who.

Too bad, because if you’ve never heard American Standard (7M3’s killer debut) all the way through, your favorite albums list of the ‘90s isn’t really complete. Back then, Ross was propped up by guitarist and chief songwriter Jason Pollock, who, with Ross, formed the band in 1992 while schooling at College of William & Mary in Virginia. It’s no coincidence that when Pollock bolted after 1998’s Orange Ave. the inevitable slide into a forgetful oblivion began for Ross and the remaining mates. 7M3 has never recovered, and, by the sounds of it, the clumsily-titled Day&Nightdriving will do little to salvage their course.

“Last Kiss” is a glistening opener, simple and straightforward like the band’s early goods. Likewise, the slower bombast of ringing guitars helps “You Think Too Much” leave a decent mark. Most good 7M3 albums have at least one piano-and-acoustic-guitar ballad, and “Hammer & A Stone” fills that spot here. “I’m the star stuck on your ceiling, so I can watch you while we’re sleeping,” Ross whispers in near-lullaby fashion. Maybe Ross is just getting old, or maybe he thinks those ballads deserved more space, but filling the second half of the album with stuff that might be better served on a solo outing really keeps DRIVING from being something special. After all, even Rob Thomas knew better than to litter a MB20 record with a bunch of wussy ballads.

Trust me, when the band steps up and really brings it – and they do on “Laughing Out Loud” and “Was a Ghost” – the faint cry of past 7M3 greatness can be heard. “I couldn’t have written these songs when I was 24,” admits Ross. “I thought I could, but I really couldn’t, having not gone through these experiences myself.” Referring to life as a husband and father, striking balance between band and family, Ross attempts to account for the album’s insight and more mature perspective. Personally, I’d rather know if he’s got anything left in the grungy ol’ guitar case, or if Pollock took the best of what 7M3 was out the door with him.

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