This page has been archived and is no longer updated.Find out more about page archiving.

Son Volt American Central Dust Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Black and white alt country, with just a hint of sepia-tinged nostalgia around the...

Sid Smith 2009

Having emerged from the wreckage of Uncle Tupelo in the mid-90s, with Jeff Tweedy and company splitting off to form Wilco, Jay Farrar's Son Volt persona has wandered a somewhat erratic and occasional wayward path through alt country's highways and byways.

Their last album, The Search (2007), had Farrar come back from a series of indifferent solo releases, adorning the material with a lustre that sometimes bordered on country-fied psychedelia.

If The Search was something of a multi-coloured journey with a widened spread of textural choices, the new album makes more of a mark with less tools, going all black and white with just a hint of sepia-tinged nostalgia creeping in around the edges.

American Central Dust swirls with dark roads, biker bars, broken dreams, heart-ache, brutal truths and other familiar archetypes. Yet despite such recourse to such well-worn touchstones this doesn't sound like a backwards step.

If anything, the stripped-back sound gets us closer to the bones of his chosen themes which alternate between the intimate micro-climates of the soul and the macro-consequences of when pride most assuredly comes before a fall.

The dark comedy of Keith Richards' alleged act of communion that saw him blend a Class A drug with his father's cremated remains becomes a poetic exploration of loss at close quarters on Cocaine And Ashes.

When The Wheels Don't Move is a concession to their occasionally rockist threads. Across ominous rolling thunder drums and lightning slashes of fuzz-charged guitar, Farrar checklists how the industrialised half of the world seems hell-bent on wrecking it all for everyone. Apocalypse now, indeed.

Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you choose to use this review on your site please link back to this page.