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Friday, March 3, 2006


Rhett Miller "The Believer"

Once again, Rhett Miller, lead singer-songwriter for The Old 97s, exorcises his pop demons on his new solo effort, "The Believer." A collection of mostly upbeat songs about the redemptive power of love, the album is much like his underrated 2002 debut, "The Instigator."

George Drakoulis (Black Crowes, Tom Petty, The Jayhawks) produces, filling out the sound with a talented array of studio musicians and creating expansive, layered sounds in songs such as "Meteor Shower." In a highlight of the album, Miller is joined in a duet with Rachel Yamagata, who provides sultry vocals on "Fireflies." Miller also covers two Old 97s songs, "Singular Girl" and "Question," with new arrangements that make them fit in nicely with the "love-conquers-all" theme of the album.

A notable exception to the positive vibe is a heartfelt tribute to songwriter Elliott Smith, a close friend of Miller's who committed suicide in 2003; Miller sings: "And I believed you when you said that happiness was all that you wanted, and you almost made it." With this second batch of pop gems, Miller should be able to find even more believers.

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