Rhett Miller, Special guest Jon Langford - 6/5
at City Winery Chicago
About Rhett Miller
"It’s a grown-up record,” Rhett Miller says of his extraordinary new album, The Dreamer. “It takes a long time to feel the confidence to step up and be the boss. I finally feel like I’m there.”
Rhett Miller has made a number of fine solo albums over his long, illustrious career, but none have felt quite as exemplary as The Dreamer. A collection of “simple American songs and instrumentation,” the album marks the second release on Miller’s own Maximum Sunshine Records as well as the singer/songwriter’s first foray into self-production. Sparsely arranged but animated with unrefined energy and emotion, songs like “Out Of Love” and “Swimmin’ In Sunshine” join together elements of classic country, indie folk, and chamber pop, bridging the space between Miller’s harder rocking work with the Old 97’s and the inventive complexity of his brilliant solo career.
Despite the Old 97’s prolificacy in recent years – including five studio albums over the last decade – Miller found himself with a cache of material that didn’t necessarily work within the rather ornery confines of the band. The songs all had a common thread which marked them as too temperate for the 97’s and yet more traditional roots-rock than anything Miller had done on prior solo records.
The earthy country pop of The Dreamer is ideally matched by the plaintive characterizations and the nuanced craftsmanship of a master tunesmith. Having loosely structured the album to create a somewhat illusory impression of loss, disconnection, and eventual redemption, Miller consciously infused The Dreamer with a subtle sense of the unconscious.
The Dreamer, features smart, skilled songwriting balanced and brought to life by a playful spontaneity and its creator’s hard-earned confidence. Having taken the reins into his own hands, Rhett Miller has crafted what feels like a milestone in his unquestionably robust oeuvre, a definitive portrait of the artist at his autonomous best. “I loved making this album so much,” he says enthusiastically, “seeing the ease with which it can be done. Doing this myself, on my own label, with all these friends, it was a dream come true.”
Jon Langford is a founder member of the Mekons and Waco Brothers. Currently residing in Chicago, he also paints and performs with The Pine Valley Cosmonauts and his solo project Skull Orchard.