Saturday, March 31, 2007

Chasing Down Sin

I had pretty much written off Jay Farrar and Son Volt after his most recent solo record and then the reformed band’s last release. Farrar overstuffs his lyrical lines (he needs someone to tell him to put the cork in); he resorts too often to unwieldy college-boy diction (I think it’s cool to know the word "caryatid," but I’m certain you’re not supposed to use it in a song); his screeching about consumerism and the war, and whatever else, sounds pretty shrill to me; and, worst of all, he frequently makes quasi-rootsy goodtime buttrock party music for frat boys with backwards baseball hats sipping shitty keg beer from Solo cups. Better than Dave Matthews, perhaps, but not as enjoyable as the Gin Blossoms, or even Third Eye Blind – yeah, I said it. So, I was prepared to hate the new Son Volt record, The Search. And I hate parts of it. But there are a few songs that, I don’t know .... do me right. A song called "Methamphetamine" is one. The name-dropping of North Carolina, Arkansas, and Branson, are all good things. And the general pedal-steel achiness of the whole affair fits the sour-mash caramel-candy tones of Farrar’s swoopy pulled-taffy Possum-esque singing. It too may suffer from all of Farrar’s tendencies, but it overcomes itself nicely.

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