A decade or more of being beaten with the same 'alt-country stick' can have an effect...
Iain Griffin 2007
This album is a 6 Music album of the day
His solo excursion at the start of the decade allowed Jay Farrar to escape the shackles of band constraints and experiment like never before. The ‘me’ time hung pre-conceptions out in the porch while wild experimentations were concocted inside. A decade or more of being beaten with the same 'alt-country stick' can have an effect on one’s sanity.
Now back, revitalised and tossing albums out like they’re going out of fashion (if Son Volt were ever in fashion), Farrar’s got the same bug which saw him capture imaginations in the 90s. The Search begins where 2005’s Okemah & The Melody Of Riot left off. Opening track ''Slow Hearse'' sparks the album to life with the same melodic piano as closed ''World Waits For You'' on the last chapter.
Although writing for this album began the moment the last was put to bed, the transition is more diverse than its predecessor. An array of instruments pin each song around a specific sound, bringing more of a correlation between this body of work and Farrar’s experimental solo material than Sun Volt’s previous offerings. The Eastern-influenced guitar loop on ''Slow Hearse'' and soulful Memphis horns throughout ''The Picture'' show Farrar’s new worldly approach to the band in its reincarnated guise.
Politics naturally play a part, as does life on the road. ''Satellite'' - literally about the use of satellites to communicate while on tour - and ''Highways & Cigarettes'' (featuring a beautiful guest vocal from Shannon McNally) bring Farrar’s vivid imagination to song. But it’s the title track where the overriding theme of the album is most prevalent. ''The Search'' to achieve a goal and always do better is at the heart of its statement. Its poignancy can’t be overlooked for someone who’s been through so much, yet continues to impress even if he’s not quite in top form.