Home Read Classic Album Review: Rhett Miller | The Instigator

Classic Album Review: Rhett Miller | The Instigator

The Old 97's frontman acquits himself admirably on his major-label solo debut.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Somehow, I suspect this is all Ryan Adams’ fault.

Once the former Whiskeytown leader found fame and fortune by ditching his band and going solo, you knew it was only a matter of time until others took the bait. First up: Old ’97’s frontman Rhett Miller, who’s ditched his nerdy glasses, grown out his shaggy mane and made every attempt to present himself as roots-pop’s next It Boy on his major-label solo debut The Instigator. Thankfully, if what’s inside the album counts for anything, Miller has more than a makeover going for him. The Instigator contains an even dozen new slices of Rhett’s stock in trade — exceedingly clever, unavoidably hooky, endearingly twangy roots-pop. Of course, they’ve been updated for the times by eclectic producer-of-the-moment Jon Brion, but not even his sonic tomfoolery can water down the instantly catchy choruses of jangly power-poppers like Our Love and This is What I Do or the achingly pretty melodies of Your Nervous Heart and World Inside the World. Looks like The Instigator could be the start of a beautiful friendship.