Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1 was Browne's first live release since 1977's landmark Running on Empty. The performances were recorded at various locations in the United States and Europe during Browne's 2004 solo acoustic tour. The live version of "Lives in the Balance" from the album was released as a promotional single.
"The Birds of St. Marks" was originally written in 1970 and sometimes played in live performances, but was not released on any recordings until this release. "The Rebel Jesus" is a bonus track on Australian and Japanese versions, and on special edition CDs bought in the U.S. at Best Buy.