King of all the world: Rhett Miller
King of all the world: Rhett Miller

Rhett Miller

Rhett Miller, the voice of Dallas' Old 97's, has a new gig. Spurred by an independent, ever-rocking mettle, the front man of the alt-country powerhouse is Hitchhiking to Rhome via a new route -- the solo circuit.

While The Instigator, Miller's first solo album, isn't a dramatic departure from the Old 97's catalogue (and, hey, it needn't be), it does expand on his tender, maudlin side hinted at on Satellite Rides, the most recent 97's offering. The West Texas teardrops drip most audibly on "Come Around," The Instigator's first single. Naturally, Miller balances this sincerity with smart-mouth gems (occasionally referred to as "lyrical depth"). The guy who once asked "What's so great about the barrier reef?" now tells us, "The city is dark/But we're not scared/Wrapped up in each other/Makin' lovin' out of nothin' like the air supplier said." Such words of wisdom ride, of course, on Miller's hyper-enunciation and hum-ready hooks.

They say everything's big in Texas. Miller's talent -- whether melding with his bandmates' or standing solo -- is no exception.


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