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Rhett Miller, ‘Rhett Miller’ (Shout! Factory)

Whether fronting the Old 97’s or going it alone, singer-guitarist Rhett Miller has never been less than smart and subtle, but his fourth solo set is oddly vague and undercooked. Stuck in by-the-numbers romantic scenarios, “Lashes” and “Caroline” lack the twists of his more distinctive tunes, while the corny “Haphazardly” trades Miller’s sly rasp for showy vocalizing. But the appealingly sleepy “Another Girlfriend,” featuring a sleazy, unreliable narrator, and “Happy Birthday Don’t Die,” which abandons his usual country-leaning grooves for high-octane psychedelia, prove that the boy can still summon the inspiration to deliver authentic thrills.

Listen: Rhett Miller, “I Need to Know Where I Stand” (DOWNLOAD MP3)