Monday, December 14, 2009

Review: Son Volt, American Central Dust

Artist: Son Volt
Album: American Central Dust
Released: July 7, 2009 on Rounder Records

As a fairly hardcore devotee of alt-country music, I cannot avoid the importance of Son Volt and the work of its bandleader Jay Farrar. Son Volt has stuck to their roots throughout their existence, avoiding the more divergent path into different genres taken by Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. With American Central Dust, it’s very evident that Son Volt has not abandoned that unmistakably American sound, woven together once more by Farrar’s lyricism built on a nostalgic obsession for the past and the inevitable presence of fiddles, pedal steel guitar and piano. There are some gorgeous tracks on this latest effort—that can always be counted on with Farrar.

Nonetheless, that predictability also seems to be my one critique of Son Volt and especially this album. I don’t think it would be fair to call American Central Dust static but it quite simply sounds like everything else they’ve ever recorded. Son Volt has a great sound and Farrar is one of the best songwriters of all time, but there seems to be a lack of energy or spontaneity to his group. In any case, it doesn’t I mean I won’t enjoy listening to it or that the intensely proud Americana music fan base won’t universally praise it. Fans can count on the usual mix of melancholic ballads and easy rockers with heavy imagery and wistful hints of twang.

-- Cole Stangler, "The Cosmic American Music Radio Hour," Tuesdays 12-2 p.m.

No comments: