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July 18, 2024

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Rhett Miller
The Instigator (Elektra Records)

By: Alex Steininger

As the front man for the alt-country outfit The Old 97s, Rhett Miller wrote some of the finest drunken, sloppy, country-fried rock 'n' roll, all with plenty of emotion. The Old 97s represented youth, exuded rock 'n' roll, and wrote songs you could connect with. That is why Rhett Miller's The Instigator is such a disappointment. The songs are good, don't get me wrong. They are sharp, well-dressed songs that look good. The impeccable production, the glossy melodies, and the slick feel, however, drown Miller's roots-y, raw songwriting, taking the life out of the songs as Miller tries to re-invent himself as a pop star. But, he's better at being the guy fresh off the barstool that got up on stage to give you an hour of memorable entertainment. I'll give this a B-.
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