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SON VOLT —NOTE OF BLUE (Transmit Sound – Thirty Tigers)

http://sonvolt.com

 

Lead vocalist and songwriter, Sun Volt front man Jeff Farrar has long been a favourite of mine and with his unique vocal style he offer both a unique and memorable style every time he steps up to a microphone. On Note Of Blue Farrar’s vocal may not always be as pronounced as I have sometimes heard them but there is an embedded essence that edges into one’s subconscious. Plus, by some twist of fate his diction has never been better.

 

Contradictory was never in it. Here, the music is a little more forceful than on some Son Volt records. Farrar claims he wanted to place a greater emphasis on blues on this album, and ‘discover the tunings and guitar voicings’ of Skip James and Mississippi Fred McDowell. He certainly doesn’t allow any dust to settle as he prods and probes at America’s musical boundaries.  

 

 

Son Volt was one of the bands that came out of Uncle Tupelo, the other to come from it is the acclaimed unit was the Jayhawks. A band I invariably like best when Mark Olson is in the line-up; but that is another story and one best kept for another day.   

 

It took till “Cherokee St” for me to feel Farrar was cooking on all cylinders, although admittedly he does sound the business on opening track “Promise The World” (I love the pedal steel and fiddle work) and “Back Against The Wall” plus the relentless feel “Sinking Down” as no prisoners are taken as you have some inspired guitar it is typically what you would expect from Farrar.

 

The album is different to what I had anticipated, unless I had read the quote about Skip James and Mississippi Fred McDowell I wouldn’t have guessed he had been influenced that way. Others of note include the lyrically powerful “Threads And Steel” and with something of a mystical and simple feel “Cairo And Southern”.

 

“The Storm” is a sensitive story-ballad, warmed in choice acoustic guitar and Dobro the bare bones production see him edge open the heart and soul of the listener. It’s delightful stuff as he sings about how once he gets to California he will be fine. “Threads And Steel” is an inspired affair, simple but innovative, Farrar borrows lyrics from an old gospel song on this one to tell his story. Could he one day we have Son Volt record their interpretation of a blues gospel album.  

 

Such is my love of Farrar voice I am disappointed on the rare occasions when a greater emphasis is on the instrumentation front. For his vocals and turn of phrase are like no other.

 

                                                                      Maurice Hope 

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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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