Rhett Miller is one of those artists who has been sort of bubbling on the surface for the past 20 years, almost making it to the mainstream, but always coming just a bit short. He’s most well-known as the frontman and head songwriter of the alt-country band Old 97’s. Like most alt-country bands, the Old 97’s were never able to reach mainstream audiences, partially because they don’t quite fall under one specific genre. Starting in the early 2000s, Rhett Miller began to work on a solo career in addition to his work on the Old 97’s, taking those songs of his that he liked but don’t fit with the band’s sound. While Rhett Miller’s work has never really made it to the top of the pops, he’s found a loyal following, that’s included several big names, including Vince Vaughn and the writers of Scrubs, both of whom have put songs by Rhett Miller and the Old 97’s in their works.
Last year, the Old 97’s released their 10th full studio album, “Most Messed Up”. The album, a raw and raunchy reflection on the band’s 20-year career, met favorable reviews from critics and fans alike. After finishing with the Old 97’s tour, Miller got back to the recording studio with a stack of songs left over from “Most Messed Up”. These songs, more soft and delicate than the loud, fast-driving work of “Most Messed Up”, needed a special touch to make them come out, Miller says. Therefore, he recruited Black Prairie, a Portland-based bluegrass band, who shares several members with the Decemberists. The album, named “The Traveler”, is now set to be released on May 12th. Miller has already released one of the songs from this album, a jubilant love song about picnicking in the sun, called “Most in the Summertime”. The track also features Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of R.E.M. You can listen here: