Album Review: Son Volt – Notes Of Blue

SINGLE POCKET JACKET -most common formatJay Farrar, through his various bands and exemplary projects, has become a purveyor of the great American songbook, like many great musical legends before him. As he brings his own unique flavor to the party, Farrar’s music has encompassed folk, country, garage rock, psychedelia, and now, blues-inspired stomp.

Farrar’s forthcoming release, Notes Of Blue, from his mainstay project, Son Volt, combines sounds familiar from recent releases—the garage rock edge that has been largely missing since the early years of Uncle Tupelo, and foot-stomping blues picked up from a recent infatuation with artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell.

The end result is an album that maintains its intrigue from beginning to end. The sound flows effortlessly from the sleepiness of atmospheric songs like “Cairo and Southern” to fuzzed-out rockers like “Lost Souls.” Just as fatigue sets in from air drumming your way throughCherokee St.,” you are given a break with a beautifully mellow track like “The Storm.” The pacing is key here, evidenced by each song’s carefully-chosen placement on the album.

To listeners yearning for a Son Volt instant classic, album opener “Promise the World” delivers the goods. Pedal steel, fiddle and Farrar’s signature vocal tone bring back the feel of releases from the late 90s; the timely lyrics mirror today’s climate and relay hope for “light after darkness.”

While previous releases like Honky Tonk stuck closely to a particular sound and did not venture far beyond it, Notes Of Blue pulls from all of Farrar’s influences.  Notes Of Blue, the most consistent album since Son Volt was reformed in late 2004, brilliantly embraces the vintage feel of old blues records, and melds it with a lifetime of rich, musical exploration.

Purchase Notes Of Blue, out February 17th via Thirty Tigers: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/notes-of-blue/id1183144916

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Samuel Barker

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