As I associate all things Old 97's/Rhett as my version of church, his comment is apropos. However, that does not diminish the fact he is a jerk.
But I digress…
The 12 tracks on The Traveler are a perfect companion piece to last year's tumultuous collection of self-reflection, the glorious Most Messed Up. This solo work is a continuation of the same themes, still contemplative only softer, lighter handed, and less sweary. In fact no swears were given to create this work.
Instead it is a beautiful collection of storytelling revolving around love, loss, anguish, temporary bliss, longing, a tinge of regret, and a healthy dose of cleverly worded sexual encounter wrapped in Mr. Miller's signature ebullient melodies which betray the content.
This album covers a wide variety of stylings from the feel-good Most in the Summertime to the waltz of My Little Disaster to the pure power of pop on Jules and Escape Velocity to the slow ballads of Good Night and Wicked Things to the dirgy Dreams vs Waking Life to the happy-go-lucky élan of Lucky Star.
The thematic arc starts with the strain of an undeniable pull of restlessness (Wanderlust), then travels through the bright flame of desire (My Little Disaster), the entrapment of long-term relationships (Escape Velocity), acknowledgement of bad behavior (Wicked Things) and comes to a hopeful end with bouncy Reasons to Live which recalls the same spirit of The Grand Theatre (2) final track, You Call It Rain.
"You and I with love in our hearts/there is no telling where we can go
Thank God I didn't die/when I wanted to/Thank God I didn't die/I wouldn't have met you
I have found reasons to live"
Also, tons of sworn-worthy lyrics with which to fan yourself.
"Heaven knows there probably is no Heaven/except for in this room and on this bed/That's what I said"- Lucky Star
"My little disaster rolls over at dawn/remember when we woke up and got it on/I ask is that right now/and she says indeed/it's never too early for your hour of need"
"Life is too short to say no when you're asked/to share a shag rug or to pull off a flask" - My Little Disaster
And it all magically comes together with the unique sound of Black Prairie, whose musical force makes these songs soar. I love this collection. There's a lot of life to this one. This one hits the mark for this disciple.
But I'm just a fan, not a record reviewer. I'm completely biased and not very eloquent. For a more cohesive perspective, read A.V. Club writer, Annie Zaleski's take on The Traveler here. She uses all kinds of pretty words strung together.
Last year’s Old 97’s record, , was a raucous, ribald chronicle of abject drunkenness and reckless confessions that bristled with unpleasant personal truths. Frontman Rhett Miller continues harnessing that freewheeling honesty on his excellent new solo album, , but casts a more forgiving eye toward unruly behavior and judgment lapses. “Wicked Things” admits to indiscretions, but the secret shame is shared between two people, while the frustrations detailed in “Escape Velocity” stem from circumstances out of the narrator’s control, and the poetic waltz “My Little Disaster” is a tender, whimsical snapshot of a misguided romantic dalliance.
For your listening pleasure, here's the link to Rhett's interview with David Dye and performance of Wanderlust, Most in the Summer Time and Reasons to Live here.
You can stream the album here. For Fuck's sake! Just go buy the damn thing here!! It will replenish your soul.
Go in Peace. Praise be to the Music Gods. Amen.