As my own review notes, it's a good disc (probably Miller's best solo effort), and the songs are undoubtedly enjoyable. But there is, again, without a doubt, something missing, something just out of the disc's grasp, something that keeps the disc from latching onto its listeners. A certain grit, maybe. Or, perhaps more appropriately, a viable reason for existence. There's just nothing about the disc that screams "must-own," except to the most diehard of fans--which is weird because, again, these are enjoyable, well-crafted songs.
If I had to jump on a reason, I'd say it's because there's not much logic, in my mind at least, as to why these songs weren't flushed out as 97's tracks. With that band venturing away from alt-country and Miller himself attempting to move more closely to the rock end of the pop spectrum, it just seems a natural fit. But I don't know if that's right either. Which maybe speaks to the ultimate problem of the disc--both with me and with other reviewers. The disc leaves us struggling for how to react, either positively or negatively.
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Unfortunately, that's the ultimate sign of mediocrity, even if the disc is too enjoyable for most reviewers to want to admit as much.