After bleeding the line between his solo career and his role as frontman of the Old 97's for the past decade, Rhett Miller seemed to have finally settled on a balance: His band gets the twangy songs, and his own records receive the ornate pop tunes. But on his sixth solo album, the 41-year-old singer-songwriter scales back, favoring stripped-down arrangements instead of the fancier ones he's used in the past. As a result, The Dreamer too frequently sounds like a collection of demos Miller wasn't sure where to place. There's some ambling folk ("Lost Without You"), moody minor-chord brooding ("Out of Love"), and wistful ballads ("This Summer Lie"). But there's not much focus. More often than not, The Dreamer's 13 songs come off like orphans, directionless castaways in search of a home. — Gallucci
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