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 Jambands.com