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12 by Rhett Miller

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features...


I wrote about his band, so it's only fair that I write about Rhett Miller's solo output. There are differences between the two, of course, but if you like one, you're pretty much guaranteed to like the other.

Let me just add that I love how Rhett thematically titles his albums - his live album is called The Interpreter - and hate that he messed up the pattern by self-titling his 2009 record.

If you have Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen along here.


1. "This Is What I Do" (from The Instigator, 2002)
A statement of purpose told through a very-Jon-Brion pop arrangement.

2. "Come Around" (from The Instigator, 2002)
I know from personal experience that this song hits hard when you're in the middle of a doomed romantic entanglement.

3. "Help Me, Suzanne" (from The Believer, 2006)
A ray of sunshine in the form of a song.

4. "Fireflies" (from The Believer, 2006)
A smoky break-up duet with Rachel Yamagata that leans hard into a classic country sound.

5. "Like Love" (from Rhett Miller, 2009)
Featuring fantastic performances all around, this tune manages the magic trick of being musically complex while sounding simple and straightforward.

6. "Another Girlfriend" (from Rhett Miller, 2009)
Shows off Rhett's traditionalist side; this could have been a hit for George Jones circa 1972.

7. "Love Grows" (from The Dreamer, 2012)
A short and sweet little shuffle.

8. "Picture This" (from The Dreamer, 2012)
Honestly, having small children never felt like this except for the part about "confusion," but it's a very sweet song nevertheless.

9. "Jules" (from The Traveler, 2015)
The presence of Black Prairie (featuring members of The Decemberists) brings some musical drama to this ode to a mixed-up love affair.

10. "Lucky Star" (from The Traveler, 2015)
Not a cover of the Madonna song, but it has pretty much the same sentiment behind it.

11. "Total Disaster" (from The Messenger, 2018)
A weird combination of 1960s surf rock and 1980s mope rock, and a fine addition to the subcategory of Old '97s / Rhett Miller songs where he details how much of a mess he is.

12. "Close Most of the Time" (from The Messenger, 2018)
A partial autobiography that jumps through time with vignettes about Rhett's relationship status, mental health, and his cars. Musically, it could be a long-lost Zombies tune.

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