Son Volt – Honky Tonk

Rounder Records

Rounder Records

One of the best compliments I can give Son Volt’s new Honky Tonk album is the fact – a fact, Jack – that after the first listen to the liner note-less advance CD, I was writing the PR folks to get a copy of the album credits … convinced that a few of the tunes were long-lost gems from ol’ Lefty Frizzell or Buck Owens or one of the Hanks (Thompson or Williams, perhaps). But no – these tunes all belong to Son Volt’s Jay Farrar … which shouldn’t come as a big surprise, as the man has worn a coat of authenticity as comfortably as an old thin-elbowed denim jacket since the Uncle Tupelo days. (Few people can put voice to the soul of a broken-hearted, black-lunged, alcoholic coal miner when they’re in their 20s – but Jay Farrar could.)

So, yes: the title of the album is Honky Tonk – and much of it is just that. Luscious twang; passages of pedal steel (courtesy of Mark Spencer and Brad Sarno) that make the emotions of a given song’s lyrics just a little higher/deeper/further/darker/lighter); baritone guitar cameos; fiddles, accordion, and mandolin in just the right places. “There’s a world of wisdom inside a fiddle tune,” sings Farrar on “Down The Highway” and he proves it in classic fashion on Honky Tonk.

But there are also the touches that are anything but classic – except in Son Volt world: Farrar lyrics that push the boundaries of cadence for the sake of what needs to be said (and always pulling it off); unexpected expected chord changes and/or modulations (the Buckaroos might not have considered the path Son Volt takes after the first verse of “Bakersfield”, but it’s a good one); and unique rhythms and moods that manage to meld Saturday night at the vee eff dubya with the avant-garde.

Click HERE to read the conclusion of Son Volt’s Honky Tonk on

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • Archives

  • Categories:

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 27 other subscribers