Jay Farrar's Summerteeth sucked. When the Son Volt frontman—once a member of Uncle Tupelo with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy—tried to branch out from Americana with 2007's The Search (which featured electric piano, backward loops, a horn section and electric bouzouki) it didn't go nearly as well as when his former bandmate did it a decade ago.
Fortunately, Farrar returns to distinctively twangy folk tunes with the just-released American Central Dust. It's a welcome comeback but markedly toned down from releases such as Trace and Wide Swing Tremolo. The bulk of the album evokes a scene from a Western, when the cowboy hero realizes he's alienated his wife and his family and his horse and is going to have to go it alone.
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It might not be as exciting as Farrar's output in the '90s, but it might be enough to recall thoughts on some of that magic.