Texan and leader of the Old 97s Rhett Miller delievers exactly what is to be expected on his solo debut The Instigator.
The melodies are crisp, the songs are honest, if not replete with campy come-ons almost trademarked by the high-energy, high-quality Old 97s.
Miller’s songs are given more than a spit polish-and-shine on Instigator. Excellent production pushes the sonic dynamics further; making the album’s highs brighter, and the lows darker. Despite the buffed up production, Rhett Miller’s record as a solo artistspales in comparison to his records with the Old 97s.
Noticeably absent on The Instigator are the backing vocals of Murry Hammond, who mixes perfectly with Miller’s swoon and croon delivery and down-home song subjects.
Even without Hammond’s backing vocals, The Instigator doesn’t sound as big as 2001’s very solid Satellite Rides.
The songs on The Instigator are Old 97s songs without the rest of the band. Nothing on Instigator is as charged or confident as “King Of All The World” (Satellite Rides). Instead of confident sing songy unpretentious pop songs The Instigator offers sad, insecure hooks like “Will I always be alone?”
Without his bandmates Rhett Miller sounds just that, too alone.