Until now, this alt-country veteran has reserved his pop-rock side for his solo albums and his country side for releases with Old 97’s. But that band has long treated country much as the Byrds or even the Beatles did, fortifying sentimental old forms with spry sounds and wry sensibilities. So Miller’s fourth solo album in a decade — his first self-produced and self-released — is perhaps his most genuinely rustic. Featuring backup vocals by Rachael Yamagata and Rosanne Cash, its sad pedal steel and simple tropes might sound formulaic were Miller not so advanced at his craft, with wryness and spryness enlivening even the acoustic guitar and corny extended metaphor of “Marina.” A lonely narrator thinks he’s “Swimmin’ in Sunshine,” but a pretty (Greek) chorus demands, “What do I know about love?” The two beats of quiet doubt in “Picture This” only makes its vision of domestic bliss more real, like any instantly classic wedding song should be. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Picture This”
Rhett Miller & the Serial Lady Killers perform at the Brighton Music Hall on June 9.