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. Miller decided to take an appropriately naturalistic approach towards the songs by producing them on his own. Having previously teamed with such top studio hands as George Drakoulias and longtime collaborator Jon Brion, he felt sure that he had the requisite chops to stand behind the helm of his own sessions. Miller assembled a top flight team comprised of engineer Kevin McMahon (Real Estate, Titus Andronicus) and his longtime road band, The Serial Lady Killers — guitarist Tommy Borscheid, bassist Greg Beshers, and drummer Angela Webster — as well as a roster of guest players including pedal steel guitarist Rich Hinman (Ben Kweller, Matt Keating), keyboardist Joe McGinty (Nada Surf, Stew & The Negro Problem), and Miller’s upstate NY neighbor, legendary percussionist Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates).
Salim Nourallah is a North Texas music scene fixture. After gaining initial acclaim with the Denton-based Nourallah Brothers he has gone on to release several solo albums and produce a fine list of many others (including the Old 97s, Rhett Miller, Deathray Davies & Carter Albrecht). His solo debut Polaroid (2004) was met with reviews like this one: “discovering a singer-songwriter who can stop time is rare, but Salim Nourallah is such a find…” (Rolling Stone). Beautiful Noise followed in 2006 to more critical acclaim and he swept the Observer music awards with Best Album/Best Song and Best Producer. Salim has gone on to win 5 consecutive Observer Awards for Best Producer. His 5th solo CD, Hit Parade, was released in April 2012 by the German indie label, Tapete Records. Salim’s next album, Skeleton Closet, will be releasing in late 2014.