Son Volt front man Farrar talks about group’s latest album
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Jay Farrar has been penning and performing rock music under the alt-country banner for nearly two decades.
It’s a genre he feels quite comfortable in, as he should — for it is one that he helped give birth to and nurture in its early years.
“The alternative country tag is always going to be there,” he said in a recent interview ahead of his band Son Volt’s gig tonight at the Mod Club. “I still like classic country music a lot but it would be too one dimensional to only take inspiration from that so I try to listen to a variety of stuff.”
For those unfamiliar with his rock ‘n’ roll resume, Farrar was one half of the songwriting team behind seminal early-’90s group Uncle Tupelo. That band — often credited with founding the alt-country movement, a blending of country music and alternative rock — later split up and the two founding members went on to form other successful bands. Farrar now fronts Son Volt and bandmate Jeff Tweedy formed Wilco.
Farrar has always worn his true country-rooted heart on his sleeve and his work has struck a cord with music fans and critics alike. For evidence of this impact just type in the term “alt-country” on Google and you’ll be presented with more than 1.28 million search results to sift through.
Thankfully, the hype about the alt-country label has largely subsided over the years. That may be part of the reason why The Search, the latest album from Son Volt — which also includes Dave Bryson (drums), Andrew Duplantis (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Derry De Borja (keyboards) — sounds unpredictably new.
Unlike the two-guitar fundamentals of the group’s most recent album, 2005’s Okemah And The Melody of Riot, Son Volt attempted to widen its horizons on its latest recording.
“The Search sessions had more songs (22) to work with,” Farrar says, “and that allowed the overall scope to expand a bit and perhaps be more diversified.”
Wherever the lyrics of The Search broach foreboding problems like the synergy of greed and war, the sturdy down-home aspects of the group’s sound are still there to mediate. “Being an American living in America there is the daily sense of disbelief. I try to keep a balanced outlook.”