Jay Farrar of Son Volt - 2/9
at City Winery New York City
As a founder of alternative country pioneers Uncle Tupelo, a solo artist, and as the leader of Son Volt, Jay Farrar’s work often seeks out the ghosts of America's discordant or forgotten past, converses at length with them, and writes songs that stake a claim to a better future. Most recently, Farrar has added the Son Volt album Honky Tonk and New Multitudes (Rounder), a Woody Guthrie inspired collaboration with Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Will Johnson (Centro-matic) and Anders Parker (Varnaline), to his long list of critically acclaimed albums.
From his earliest recordings in the 1990s as a founding member of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar has been a keen observer of the American landscape: its beauties and its tragedies, salvations and poisons.
It’s a perspective that’s been hard-won by steady touring and travel through this nation, and Farrar’s almost two-decades as the leader of Son Volt (as well as impressive turns as an acclaimed solo artist and collaborator) have only deepened and sharpened his gift for capturing the sights and sounds of his American journey – a gift which is in evidence once again on Son Volt’s sixth studio album: Honky Tonk.
After all, few places are as quintessentially American as the honky tonks where neon beckons to lonely and discontented souls with the promise that sorrows can be drowned in whiskey, cigarettes and a timeless music in which the clear hard truths of its lyrics mine the emotional complexities of life and love as fiddle and pedal steel sweetly commiserate.
“Honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road,” Farrar observes.
That music provides a touchstone for eleven new Son Volt songs that excavate the classic honky tonk sound of Bakersfield (and Texas and Tennessee too) yet distill and reimagine it. Honky Tonk stays true to what’s so appealing about honky tonk music, while stretching out its familiar contours into new shapes and spaces.
Drive-By Truckers, The Jayhawks, Whiskeytown