Monday, May 11, 2009

Son Volt

Born from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt is an alternative country band whose songs contain wondrous harmonies, beautiful pedal steel melodies, violins, acoustic guitar, and the haunting voice of Jay Farrar, lead singer of the group.

Son Volt was formed after Uncle Tupelo, a band that Jay Farrar shared the lead with Jeff Tweedy (who went on to form Wilco), broke up due to “creative differences.” However, those in the know claim that Jeff and Jay were at a point where they no longer spoke to one another and there were underlying feelings of hatred.

Son Volt released their debut album in 1995. Titled Trace, the band received a small amount of airplay and had a modest hit with their song, Drown. A club tour ensued soon after, and Son Volt went on to record two more discs followed by a greatest hits package before hanging it up in 2000.

Farrar would put out a couple of solo albums, but none were as well received as his work with Son Volt. In 2004, he decided that he wanted to get the band back together and return to his signature style of music, which was recorded with Son Volt.

Hiring all new members, Jay revived the Son Volt moniker and released Okemah and the Melody of Riot in 2005. This was followed by The Search in 2007, which was considered by fans and critics alike as the best work they’ve done since their debut.

Son Volt has a unique sound that is hard to identify. The main reason for this is Jay Farrar’s voice, which contains low-throat vibrations that blend well with pedal steel and violins. His voice draws the listener in and captivates them.

His lyrics are strong, poignant, and meaningful. Jay writes of hope, faith, and desperation. He is a realist and understands the present situation and direction that his life has taken him. He offers no apologies for that. There is no fantasizing, which is what makes him a pure poet. Jay tells it like it is.

Some of his greatest lyrics are contained in the song Methamphetamine, off of The Search. “I took the night shift/another nickel on the dime/try to play it straight make it different this time/still waiting around to meet the next ex-wife.”

His use of the phrase “next ex-wife” is the center of his realism, as the recognition that a relationship is doomed from the start. Depressing? Perhaps. Powerful? Absolutely.

For more information on the band, visit their website here:

Here’s Drown from their debut

A more recent song

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