“This has been a hell of a year,” Rhett Miller says. “I turned 48 in September and I’m still surprising myself.” After more than two decades as founding member of the venerable Old 97’s and acclaimed singer–songwriter in his own right, Rhett Miller has crafted a trio of new projects that see him pushing his creative energies in hitherto untraveled directions. Among them are two utterly unique new albums – one solo, the other as part of Old 97’s – as well as his first ever book, a collection of subversive kids’ poems. The Messenger, Miller’s eighth solo album, is perhaps his most unflinchingly personal collection of songs to date. Recorded over five spring days at The Isokon in Woodstock, NY with producer/musician Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Benjamin Booker), The Messenger sees Miller playing it faster and looser than perhaps any other time in his quarter century career, instilling songs like the first single, “Total Disaster,” with a groovy limberness that belies the reflective darkness within.