Believer

The Believer

5.0 1
by Rhett Miller
     
 
More than three years have gone by since Rhett Miller released his last solo album -- a period that saw contemporary Ryan Adams practically fill the bed of a pickup with new material -- but with The Believer, the Old 97's frontman proves himself worth waiting for. Miller plays to his strengths here, displaying his emotional wounds

Overview

More than three years have gone by since Rhett Miller released his last solo album -- a period that saw contemporary Ryan Adams practically fill the bed of a pickup with new material -- but with The Believer, the Old 97's frontman proves himself worth waiting for. Miller plays to his strengths here, displaying his emotional wounds without outright flaunting them. Knowing how to walk that line gives Miller the ability to elicit empathy, rather than pity, on songs like the poignant title track, a eulogy of sorts to Elliott Smith, and "Fireflies," a duet with Rachael Yamagata. Thanks to a tumult-free stretch of personal life -- he's happily married these days, helping raise a toddler son in upstate New York -- Miller doesn't have quite as much to pine over these days, a fact that makes some of the disc's songs a bit too sweet at first taste. But he offsets that with his knack for rolling out pop-rock ditties -- like "Help Me, Suzanne" -- so crystal-clear that they could pass muster on a Brill Building retrospective. Heck, he even kicks out the jams -- a mode he usually reserves for his time in the 97's -- on the bluesy rocker "Ain't It Strange." That's something that's easy to believe in.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Rhett Miller's third solo offering, like 2002's The Instigator, is a lush collection of great melodies wrapped brightly around catchy lyrics about the same subject he's been writing about since he began fronting Old 97's. Produced by George Drakoulias -- who has worked with the Black Crowes, the Jayhawks, the Cult, Tom Petty, and Maria McKee, to name a few -- The Believer has a clear, wide-open ring. Guitars are the driving force on this set, where Miller's lilting pop voice sails and swoops, emoting sincerely (even if he is a bit overwrought in places) while Matt Chamberlain's strings, and keyboards, fill it all in. Miller has a ton of guests on the album including Gary Louris, Jon Brion, and Rachael Yamagata (who duets with Miller on the beautiful, country-tinged "Fireflies"). Producers can only do so much, though, and The Believer is a case in point. Judging by his solo material in general and The Instigator in particular, Miller writes according to a particular formula. Simple changes, lilting melodies, one topic -- he's focused but at the same time it feels, with few exceptions, that one song becomes nearly indistinguishable from another. There are exceptions, though, in the rocking "Ain't That Strange," which is stripped down, with its guitars roiling and squalling, barely contained in the mix and nearly covering the vocal. Likewise "Delicate," is anything but. It's a rock & roll song without restraint or apology. It's the exception to the rule, however. That said, there are some gorgeously crafted moments here, including the jangle pop single "Help Me, Suzanne." No Miller disc would be complete without its country-rock moments; after all, he is a Texan, and while "Fireflies" is a ballad, "Singular Girl" is a straight-up country-rock tune with a honky tonk piano and the one-two shuffle beat, yet it has a chorus worthy of Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend. The quirky metaphor -- "Talking to you girl/is like long division...." -- is a Miller trademark, and these are everywhere on this set. The Believer may be a formula recording, but it still satisfies, for the most part, on the level of what it is: a finely crafted pop
ock album. And since there are so few out there these days that even get close, it stands out and deserves a place on the shelf. It's one of those albums that in five years you will pull out of the rack, pop in the deck and be delighted with.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/28/2006
Label:
Verve Forecast
UPC:
0602498867068
catalogNumber:
000561602

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Rhett Miller   Primary Artist,Vocals,Hand Clapping
Jon Brion   Organ,Guitar,Piano,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,chamberlain
Matt Chamberlain   Percussion,Drums
George Drakoulias   Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Tambourine,Hand Clapping,Shaker
Gary Louris   Guitar,Background Vocals,Soloist
Patrick Warren   Keyboards,chamberlain
Lyle Workman   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Rossilind Ross Miller   Vocals
Josh Schwartz   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Rachael Yamagata   Vocals
Salim Nourallah   Bass,Vocals
Danny DeLaMatyr   Vocals,Background Vocals
Salim Nouraliah   Bass Guitar

Technical Credits

Aimee Mann   Composer
David Bianco   Engineer
George Drakoulias   Producer,Audio Production
Jerry Marotta   Composer
Matthew Cullen   Engineer
Rhett Miller   Composer
Hollis King   Art Direction
Rafael Serrano   Engineer
Ken Bethea   Composer
Philip Peeples   Composer
Vaughn Acord   grooming

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The Believer 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rhett Miller's second solo effort is nothing short of spectacular. The arrangements on "the Believer" are a lot different than his previous solo outing "The Instigator", complete with stings, organ and even featuring talented young songstress Rachel Yamagata on the haunting ballad "Fireflies". Old 97's fans fear not, amidst the lush sound there are still traces of rock n roll to be found. The stomp romp of "Delicate" feautring a chorus audiences are sure to shout at live shows, as well as the glam rock of "Ain't That Strange" give "The Believer" a punch of rebellion. The title track is the most poignant, the song is a reflection on Miller's youth, as well as a memorial to the late great singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. There are a few tracks that Old 97's fans might recognize, "Fireflies", "Singular Girl", and a new arrangement of the female fan favorite "Question". While some fans of the Old 97's might brush these songs off as a rehashing of old material, I think the new arrangments give new life to the songs. "The Believer" is 12 songs full of love, sex, optimisim as well as rock n roll.