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Son Volt's Farrar & Co. Back With 'Search'

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The alt-country band Son Volt is trying out a big new sound. It's a loose collective of musicians orbiting around singer-songwriter Jay Farrar.

Meredith Ochs has this review of their new album, called "The Search."

(Soundbite of music)

MEREDITH OCHS: Two years ago, Jay Farrar revived Son Volt with all new members as a vehicle for his cultural commentary and his desire to experiment with different instruments and sounds.

(Soundbite of music)

OCHS: On this album, Son Volt introduces thick, glistening keyboards and a horn section to this melodic imaginative collection of songs. Occasionally guilty of mid-tempo-itis in the past, Farrar pushes Son Volt's current ensemble toward faster paced songs like this one…

(Soundbite of music)

OCHS: As a songwriter, Jay Farrar of Son Volt spins keen observation about the place he's spent most of his adult life, touring the country as a musician, driving on highways and through cities and towns. His driver's eye is a critical eye as well. And his perspective has become more pointed on this new Son Volt CD. Farrar isn't pining for a sepia-toned America that never really was. Instead he articulates the cold shift toward materialism and away from human compassion in our culture.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. JAY FARRAR (Lead Singer, Son Volt): Hopeless heroes (unintelligible) noiseless generation. Who the hell is Dow Jones anyway (unintelligible) on a cafeteria tray.

OCHS: There's something about this new Son Volt CD that keeps the listener at a distance. Maybe it's Jay Farrar's used of words, which are poetic, but can feel alienating at times. Perhaps it's because of the enormity of his subject: politics, environmentalism, technology run amuck, and most of all the endless possibilities of the open road. "The Search," which is the title of this album, is also a metaphor for Jay Farrar's career. He left his first group, Uncle Tupelo, at the height of their commercial success.

And Son Volt has been through a couple of incarnations. Farrar said what he had to say with each musical project and then moved on. His loner persona may not be the most inviting, but it happens to lie at the heart of his talent for transforming elegy into song.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: The new album from Son Volt is called, "The Search." Our reviewer is Meredith Ochs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Meredith Ochs
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