Son Volt

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.

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.


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