Son Volt — Electro Melodier
The new album by Son Volt, Electro Melodier, releasing on Thirty Tigers on July 30, is an easy, laid back offering to the Americana world with the warm familiar vocals of Jay Farrar that significantly more-than-helped launched the entire era of Americana Music (consider the ubiquitousness of “No Depression” to this day). This fact is notwithstanding the creation of an eternally loyal fanbase still preferring quality music to the sea of banal offerings today.
Along with Farrar, Son Volt is Mark Spencer, Chris Fame, Mark Patterson and Andrew DuPlantis. The album’s title derives from two vintage amplifiers from the late ‘40s and early ‘50s and Son Volt’s music on the album is just as raw as that early authentic sound.
Jay Farrar‘s songs are poetic and there’s just that special something, that je ne sais quois in his tone, that has always turned heads and captivated hearts. The songs are steeped in what you might label as political observations, but in a way that are equally genuine perspectives on current society and the human condition.
“Reverie,” the early release, is classic rockin’ Americana Son Volt. Opening lyrics hit with punch: “When you fade into a melody.” Then “Arkey Blue” is an electric rock number considering the vastness of climate change and the album is launched to heady heights as Farrar’s vocals soothe “it’s all right, it’ll soon be over.” Then, the pointed question is evoked: can music reach the worst in us and turn it around? Son Volt’s lyrics will linger: “Now’s the time to reconcile our souls with a hopeful ear turned to Muscle Shoals.” Listen through the the next one, “The Globe,” “people all around the world just doing what they should … now’s the time to make it count … you can sense it on the street.” Keep playing. The album builds on itself step by step.
“War on Misery” plumbs the depths in a restrained acoustic number: “declare a war on misery.”
“Living in the USA” is the soul of the album, and the notable rocker in the collection. “Welcome privilege and a ticket out of jail … Where’s the empathy? Where’s the soul?” “Make way for Tremolo tears” is another line that’s a throwback to earlier Son Volt.
“Someday Is Now” comes on with a straight up: “Stop the death march,” as he urges us to “speak the truth we know.”
Optimism appears on “Sweet Refrain” sees that “We’re always looking better … that’s all we’re looking for, pitching in for one another, that’s a sweet refrain.” It contains the wince of an emotionally painful nod to musicians of color who struggled with similar deep prejudices and obstacles as those in the larger society did: “Think of Kid Douglas and Slue Foot Joe and what they went through… Duck Holmes, and the Blue Front Cafe crew and what they went through.” But like the best Americana and folk songs, there’s an optimism mingled with the dreadful, and the pedal steel carries the hopeful sentiments. Farrar’s vocals on this one are crystallized and will transport you back to all your favorite Son Volt songs as you confront serious injustices.
One might say Farrar has created a political album but I’d say anyone would have to work hard to avoid that in any genuine offering right now. The lyrics shoot straight to the truth and the music is pure, wonderful Americana.
This is an album meant to be listened to all the way through as one cohesive album. Try it.
Find Electro Melodier by Son Volt, and more merchandise and tour dates, here: https://sonvolt.net