Rhett Miller didn’t record The Traveler with his usual band, Old 97’s, but that doesn’t mean that the alt-country lifer went totally solo. This time, he got an assist from Portland’s Black Prairie, a bluegrass six-piece that shares four members with the Decemberists.
“I fell in love with the band Black Prairie during a tour we did together a couple of years ago,” Miller tells Rolling Stone. “Since then, I have been looking for an excuse to get into a studio with them. When the 97’s finished our most recent album, Most Messed Up, and I looked at the stack of songs I had left over, I realized they would be perfect for a collaboration with Black Prairie.”
Below, hear the first of these collaborations, a jubilant love song about picnicking in the sun. The single, “Most in the Summertime,” also features Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of R.E.M.
What made tracks like “Summertime” best suited for this group of musicians? “Where the 97’s record was raw and raunchy, these songs needed a more delicate touch,” he says.
The Traveler will be released on May 12th and can be pre-ordered here.