Most Messed Up is a revealing, 12-track meditation on 20 years in music that finds the Old 97's at their raucous, boozy best. It’s “a rock opera, a way-off Broadway musical about a musician’s life, loves and lubrication,” says music critic Bill Flanagan. Recorded in Austin and produced by Salim Nourallah, Most Messed Up also features guest appearances by Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Guns N’ Roses) and Jon Rauhouse (Neko Case) on lap-steel.
Titles like “Wasted,” “Intervention,” “Wheels Off,” “Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On,” and “Most Messed Up” hint at the kind of narrators frontman Rhett Miller likes to inhabit — men who possess an appetite for indulgence and won’t let a few bad decisions get in the way of a good story. The magic in Miller’s songwriting lies in the depth that he lends his characters. Upon closer inspection, the hard partying and endless pursuit of a good time often reveals itself to be a Band-Aid covering up deeper wounds and emotional scars. “There’s a lot of darkness hidden in this record,” Miller explains.