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Pop - Released September 15, 1995 | Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Stereophile: Record To Die For
Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo's final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his specifications. Teaming with UT's original drummer Mike Heidorn, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist, and bassist (and Dave's brother) Jim Boquist, Farrar's new group Son Volt started with the deep, resonant sound of his work with Uncle Tupelo and moved it several steps further, and the band's debut album, 1995's Trace, ultimately displayed his talent to better advantage than any album he made before or since. Sequenced to highlight the dynamic push and pull between fierce rockers like "Route" and "Drown," full of Farrar's Neil Young-styled electric guitar, and quieter and more thoughtful numbers like "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall," Trace honored both sides of Farrar's musical personality, and the muscular but unpretentious attack of his backing band was made to order for these songs. And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar's lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe Trace as Jay Farrar's version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure, and like All Things Must Pass it was a triumph that Farrar would never quite repeat as he created a body of work that was satisfying but never balanced songs, performances, and mood with the easy perfection he achieved here. However, when Trace appeared in 1995, it was hard not to believe Farrar had broken up Uncle Tupelo for all the right reasons, and it's still a powerful, beautifully crafted, and deeply moving set of songs. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 30, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo's final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his specifications. Teaming with UT's original drummer Mike Heidorn, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist, and bassist (and Dave's brother) Jim Boquist, Farrar's new group Son Volt started with the deep, resonant sound of his work with Uncle Tupelo and moved it several steps further, and the band's debut album, 1995's Trace, ultimately displayed his talent to better advantage than any album he made before or since. Sequenced to highlight the dynamic push and pull between fierce rockers like "Route" and "Drown," full of Farrar's Neil Young-styled electric guitar, and quieter and more thoughtful numbers like "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall," Trace honored both sides of Farrar's musical personality, and the muscular but unpretentious attack of his backing band was made to order for these songs. And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar's lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe Trace as Jay Farrar's version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure, and like All Things Must Pass it was a triumph that Farrar would never quite repeat as he created a body of work that was satisfying but never balanced songs, performances, and mood with the easy perfection he achieved here. However, when Trace appeared in 1995, it was hard not to believe Farrar had broken up Uncle Tupelo for all the right reasons, and it's still a powerful, beautifully crafted, and deeply moving set of songs. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released March 29, 2019 | Transmit Sound

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Between 1987 and 1994, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy were in a group called Uncle Tupelo, one of the greatest Americana alternative country groups of the century. After they broke up, Tweedy continued the group under the new name of Wilco and Farrar went on to form Son Volt. Fifteen years later, Union not only perfectly captures the energy of Farrar’s group but it also shows that the fifty-year-old songwriter from Illinois still has the same style, unlike Tweedy who experimented a lot with Wilco’s style. The folk music in this 9th album from Son Volt is politically charged and touches on longstanding struggles in America that are still ongoing in 2019. Some songs from Union were even recorded in places with historical significance such as the Mother Jones Museum in Mount Olive which was dedicated to Mary Harris, a great American trade unionist and socialist activist. Others were recorded in the Woody Guthrie Centre in Tulsa which is dedicated to the folk music legend, Woody Guthrie. In the shadow of these historical icons, Jay Farrar and his fellow musicians make their convictions clear in this intense collection of 13 songs. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 30, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo's final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his specifications. Teaming with UT's original drummer Mike Heidorn, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist, and bassist (and Dave's brother) Jim Boquist, Farrar's new group Son Volt started with the deep, resonant sound of his work with Uncle Tupelo and moved it several steps further, and the band's debut album, 1995's Trace, ultimately displayed his talent to better advantage than any album he made before or since. Sequenced to highlight the dynamic push and pull between fierce rockers like "Route" and "Drown," full of Farrar's Neil Young-styled electric guitar, and quieter and more thoughtful numbers like "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall," Trace honored both sides of Farrar's musical personality, and the muscular but unpretentious attack of his backing band was made to order for these songs. And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar's lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe Trace as Jay Farrar's version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure, and like All Things Must Pass it was a triumph that Farrar would never quite repeat as he created a body of work that was satisfying but never balanced songs, performances, and mood with the easy perfection he achieved here. However, when Trace appeared in 1995, it was hard not to believe Farrar had broken up Uncle Tupelo for all the right reasons, and it's still a powerful, beautifully crafted, and deeply moving set of songs. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released February 17, 2017 | Transmit Sound

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Country - Released January 1, 2013 | New Rounder

Uncle Tupelo pretty much established the subgenre of alt-country in 1990 with the release of No Depression, and the band's two main songwriters and singers, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, seemed to fulfill the promise that Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds had mapped out over two decades before, a perfect synthesis of rock and country. When Uncle Tupelo split in 1993, Tweedy, always more on the pop side of things, formed Wilco, which enjoyed commercial and critical success, while Farrar, who mapped out the moodier, more hangdog country side of things, formed Son Volt, a band with no aspirations for the charts, indie or otherwise, and while Son Volt's albums have been strong, interesting, and decidedly uncommercial ever since, they all lead, it seems, to this new one, Honky Tonk, which arrives at last squarely in country territory (more specifically, the Bakersfield country of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard), with nary an electric guitar in sight. Full of slow and midtempo waltzes and shuffles, and framed and led by pedal steel guitars and twin fiddles, along with Farrar's weary, never-in-a-big-hurry, laid-back (but somehow mysteriously intense) vocals, Honky Tonk is full of a beautiful, thoughtful, and almost Zen-like approach to life, all set against a classic old-school Bakersfield country backdrop. Songs here like "Hearts and Minds," "Wild Side," "Bakersfield," "Angel of the Blues," and "Shine On" aren't rave-ups, and aren't bitter barroom apologies, but are filled instead with a kind of stubborn hope and joy, made perhaps even more powerful for being from the 21st century while sounding like they came from the century before. The whole album accumulates in a powerful, meditative way, and its themes are less about drinking and trying to forget the past than they are about making peace with the past and trying to remember it and use it as a spark and a springboard to the future. Honky Tonk is country facing forward informed by the past. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | New Rounder

Jay Farrar resurrected Son Volt in 2005 after his solo career seemingly ran out of gas, and the two albums that followed -- Okemah and the Melody of Riot and The Search -- were the best and most compelling music he'd made since Son Volt's masterful debut Trace in 1995. However, the new albums didn't connect with an especially large audience, and the band was dropped by Sony/BMG; 2009's American Central Dust, the third set from Son Volt 2.0, has been released by the venerable independent roots music label Rounder Records, and while there's little telling if it was dictated by finance or esthetics, the album sounds austere in a way its immediate predecessors did not. Okemah and The Search found Farrar and his new bandmates edging into new musical territory while embracing a bigger studio sound; by comparison, American Central Dust feels more organic and intimate, recalling the simplicity of Trace without delivering the bracing rock & roll of songs like "Drown" or "Route." However, if American Central Dust takes a few steps back in terms of energy and impact, Farrar still sounds thoroughly engaged as both a songwriter and performer, and his band -- Chris Masterson on guitars, Mark Spencer on keyboards and steel guitars, Andrew DuPlantis on bass, and Dave Bryson on drums -- is tight and sympathetic, finding just the right angle to approach this material. And from the fiery love of "Dynamite," the environmental and economic commentary of "When the Wheels Don't Move," and "Down to the Wire," the tribute to the joys of a good honky tonk in "Jukebox of Steel," and the glimpse into Keith Richards' psyche of "Cocaine and Ashes," Farrar has rarely spoken his mind so clearly in his songs as he does here, and if he still reaches for a spectral feel, his meanings are more clearly felt than ever. American Central Dust doesn't have the feel of a step into new territory the way Son Volt's past two albums did, but it consolidates old strengths and confirms Jay Farrar is still an artist worth caring about to 20 years after Uncle Tupelo cut their first album. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 31, 2018 | Transmit Sound

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Reggae - Released September 25, 1998 | Warner Records

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Folk/Americana - Released April 6, 2018 | Transmit Sound

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 23, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

The seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo seemed poised on the verge of a major commercial breakthrough in 1994 when, to the surprise of many (including his bandmates), Jay Farrar quit the band to form Son Volt, in which he wouldn't have to share his creative vision with another songwriter. Son Volt's first album, 1995's Trace, was a beautiful and striking set of songs whose emotional power and soulful resonance suggested Farrar had made a shrewd choice in going out on his own. Then a funny thing happened -- Son Volt made two more albums that were solid and heartfelt but nowhere near as satisfying as Trace, and in 2000 Farrar put the group on hiatus, preferring to record and tour under his own name with a shifting set of musicians. In whittling Son Volt's history down to one disc and 20 songs, one might expect that A Retrospective: 1995-2000 would play to the genuine strengths of their body of work, but instead this compilation does as much to point to the group's flaws. A Retrospective peaks with its first four tracks -- three songs from Trace and a duet with Kelly Willis on Townes Van Zandt's "Rex's Blues," recorded for a benefit compilation. From that point on, much as Son Volt's second album got stuck in a mid-tempo rut that it never quite escaped, A Retrospective captures the sound of Farrar calling up the same beautifully sad late night vibe over and over again, with only the occasional rocker happening along to break the monotony (and anyone who saw Son Volt live knows they were a band who could rock out powerfully when the mood struck them) and Mike Heidorn, Jim Boquist, and Dave Boquist struggling to add weight and muscle to Farrar's increasingly similar songs. Fans will doubtless be drawn by the wealth of rare and unreleased material included (including a pair of home-recorded demos, some hard to find covers, and live radio recordings), but while there are a few glorious moments on A Retrospective, too much of this collection captures the sound of a major artist stuck in third gear, and that's certainly not the way this disc needed to sound. (Ironically, a new Son Volt album, Okemah and the Melody of Riot, was released two months after this compilation appeared, though Farrar was the only member of the original lineup to participate in Son Volt 2.0.) © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 8, 1997 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 30, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Records

Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo's final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his specifications. Teaming with UT's original drummer Mike Heidorn, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist, and bassist (and Dave's brother) Jim Boquist, Farrar's new group Son Volt started with the deep, resonant sound of his work with Uncle Tupelo and moved it several steps further, and the band's debut album, 1995's Trace, ultimately displayed his talent to better advantage than any album he made before or since. Sequenced to highlight the dynamic push and pull between fierce rockers like "Route" and "Drown," full of Farrar's Neil Young-styled electric guitar, and quieter and more thoughtful numbers like "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall," Trace honored both sides of Farrar's musical personality, and the muscular but unpretentious attack of his backing band was made to order for these songs. And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar's lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe Trace as Jay Farrar's version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure, and like All Things Must Pass it was a triumph that Farrar would never quite repeat as he created a body of work that was satisfying but never balanced songs, performances, and mood with the easy perfection he achieved here. However, when Trace appeared in 1995, it was hard not to believe Farrar had broken up Uncle Tupelo for all the right reasons, and it's still a powerful, beautifully crafted, and deeply moving set of songs. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released January 18, 2019 | Transmit Sound

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 30, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Records

Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo's final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his specifications. Teaming with UT's original drummer Mike Heidorn, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist, and bassist (and Dave's brother) Jim Boquist, Farrar's new group Son Volt started with the deep, resonant sound of his work with Uncle Tupelo and moved it several steps further, and the band's debut album, 1995's Trace, ultimately displayed his talent to better advantage than any album he made before or since. Sequenced to highlight the dynamic push and pull between fierce rockers like "Route" and "Drown," full of Farrar's Neil Young-styled electric guitar, and quieter and more thoughtful numbers like "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall," Trace honored both sides of Farrar's musical personality, and the muscular but unpretentious attack of his backing band was made to order for these songs. And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar's lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe Trace as Jay Farrar's version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure, and like All Things Must Pass it was a triumph that Farrar would never quite repeat as he created a body of work that was satisfying but never balanced songs, performances, and mood with the easy perfection he achieved here. However, when Trace appeared in 1995, it was hard not to believe Farrar had broken up Uncle Tupelo for all the right reasons, and it's still a powerful, beautifully crafted, and deeply moving set of songs. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 13, 2017 | Transmit Sound

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Country - Released March 8, 2019 | Transmit Sound

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 23, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Folk/Americana - Released February 3, 2017 | Transmit Sound

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Folk/Americana - Released December 9, 2016 | Transmit Sound