Lapsed alt-country frontman's second solo shot shows off his skills, but not quite his brilliance
Since 1995, with the Old 97's and now on two solo albums, Rhett Miller has been an exceptionally tuneful, clear, simple and poetic songwriter. He has a pro's knack, half Nashville and half Broadway, for turning ordinary English a few degrees till it reflects the light: "Sex in wartime is sweeter than peace," or "I have every confidence that she'll dismantle mine." Unfortunately, that second example is borrowed from sideman Jon Brion, one more sign that the inspired pitch of the Old 97's' 1999 Fight Songs and 2001 Satellite Rides has slackened slightly. This does improve on their 2004 Drag It Up. But there's a little too much goop here, much of it front-loaded, as if Miller is convinced that nowadays the canniest pros soft-pedal their smarts.
Blender, Mar. 2006