February 4 2018 is the 1st International House Concert Day, The European House Concert Hub and FSR are celebrating by organising the 1st International House Concert Festival. Talk to Rob Ellen if you would like to be involved.

 

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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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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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