The Believer





Good ol' Rhett Miller is back with his sophomore solo album, The Believer. As a Texan transplanted in NYC, I have been familiar with Miller's work from the very early days of The Old 97's. My first dose came nearly twelve years ago with the 97's album Hitchhike To Rhome, as well as with their split 10" single with Funland for "Stoned" and "Garage Sale". Fast forward a couple of years to the band's major label debut, Too Far To Care, which is still hands down my favorite from the alt-country icons. Miller's songwriting started to show more than just a glimmer of pop from that point on, which hinted at the possibility of his potential for a solo career. Recorded during some off time from his bandmates, this new solo record is a great collection of tunes. Produced by George Drakoulias (Tom Petty, Black Crowes), he also enlisted some help from multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion, guitarist Lyle Workman (Beck), drummer Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam, David Bowie) and vocalist Rachel Yamagata. The traditional rock-pop production yields some mighty fine results, such as the Matthew Sweet-ish opener "My Valentine", filled with layers of harmony and a memorable chorus. Handclaps abound throughout "Aint That Strange", a straight-ahead rock jam with quite possibly the least amount of country-twang of anything he has recorded. Don't worry, the twang still runs through Miller's veins, such as on the beautiful Yamagata duet "Fireflies". Although the album doesn't contain any real surprises, at least we can count on Rhett to provide us with concise, well-done pop songs that will help brighten up the few days of winter that we have left. His sunny pop songs and heart on his sleeve ballads are always a welcome sight for this Dallas native.

Rhett Miller
Verve Forecast

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The Believer