Album Mini-review: Rhett Miller — The Traveler
File Next to: Old 97s
, Pete Yorn
In his role as guitarist and lead vocalist of Old 97s, Rhett Miller has been at the modern-day vanguard of successful rock/country cross-fertilization. His solo career dates back even farther than Old 97s’ debut, and while he put solo efforts on hold for most of that band’s first decade, he resumed his solo career in 2002. The Traveler is Miller’s seventh album. The Traveler doesn’t represent a major shift in musical emphasis; while album’s arrangement choices mean that a track like “Jules” features a string section that will remind listeners of Out of Time-era R.E.M. (specifically “Losing My Religion”), Miller’s straightforward songwriting always keeps the melodic quotient high. His breezy, laconic vocal delivery has a genuine (but not overly earnest) quality that makes listeners stop and pay attention to what he’s singing about. And nobody combines c&w’s musical virtues with glam-rock quite like Miller does on “Most in the Summertime.”
An edited version of this review previously appeared in the Colorado Springs Independent.
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About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.