Son Volt – American Central Dust

January 01, 1970

(Rounder)

 

www.rounder.com

 

For all the literate imagery of his songwriting, for all the
status of his Uncle Tupelo as founder of modern Americana, Jay Farrar struggles to maintain
musicality in his thin but appealingly forlorn, mournful voice. He needs a
strong band that can inject energy when he and his melodies trail off, but not
drown him out. This version of Son Volt, featuring newcomers Chris Masterson on
guitar and ex-Blood Orange Mark Spencer on keyboards and pedal/lap steel (along
with drummer Dave Bryson and bassist Andrew Duplantis) really helps, as does
the succinct, bright mixing by Joe Henry and Ryan Freeland. There are still
weak spots, like the pointlessly reportorial “Sultana,” but the band mostly
provides country-rock drive and sweetness, even a Stonesy blues kick on “Down
to the Wire.” Speaking of the Stones, Farrar has written a tenderly elegiac
song about Keith Richards allegedly snorting his dad’s remains. “Cocaine and
Ashes” should be played between “Wild Horses” and “Moonlight Mile.”

 

Standout Tracks: “Dynamite,” “Cocaine and Ashes” STEVEN ROSEN

 

 

 

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