Texas native Rhett Miller is perhaps best known as the frontman of the Dallas-based alt-country band the Old 97’s, although he has also pursued a critically acclaimed solo career. Formed in 1993, the Old 97’s built a devoted following with their brash blend of country and power pop influences, making a splash with 1995’s Wreck Your Life, which won the group a brief stay on the roster of Elektra Records, a period kicked off with one of their finest hours, 1997’s Too Far to Care. All four members also pursued side projects, but Miller’s solo career captured the most attention, with the literate songwriter training his eye on such subjects as fatherhood, sex, and love. Making his solo bow with 2002’s The Instigator, most of Miller’s solo albums have been dominated by cool, melodic pop tunes with a drier and more confessional bent than his work with the band, though 2012’s The Dreamer explored a middle ground between his pop and alt-country sensibilities, and the 2011 set The Interpreter: Live at Largo revealed he’s a sure hand with other people’s songs.
Strictly speaking, Miller launched his own career before the Old 97’s were formed. He recorded his first solo album, a series of acoustic folk songs entitled Mythologies, in 1989. Future Old 97’s bassist (and a solid songwriter in his own right) Murry Hammond produced the album, and their partnership later blossomed into a full-fledged band. While releasing a string of well-received albums with the Old 97’s, Miller and Hammond also performed together as the Ranchero Brothers, a two-man acoustic duo that was originally launched as a means of testing new music for the Old 97’s in front of a live audience. The Ranchero Brothers developed their own distinct following, although no albums resulted from the project.