Old 97’s front man Rhett Miller is strangely underrated as a songwriter. His words are always a mouthful—intelligent, rhythmic and packed with meaning. He’s not as overtly lovelorn as his one-time rival Ryan Adams, but Miller can say more in five words than Adams can in an entire song. When you get right down to it, he’s a sly linguist with heart, which could make him cowpunk’s Colin Meloy. And if that sentence right there doesn’t make you want to snag a copy of Rhett Miller, then I feel sorry for you.
On his third solo record Miller steps away from his day job to once again indulge his apparent love of early ’90s pop and ’60s arrangements and he does it well. Whether he’s making light of his dating situation in the Beatles-esque “Another Girlfriend” or gaining ground with perfect harmony on “I Need to Know Where I Stand,” Miller makes it seem calculated and effortless at the same time. And this fuels my only complaint—sometimes it’s so pristine it lacks the character of his two previous works. But it’s still a record that will nestle in your gut, and, ultimately, that’s Miller’s specialty.
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