by Matt De Mello
So I’m going to preface this article by saying I love Sun Volt and I love Jay Farrar. I think they’re a fantastic band and I have love for every album. There is nary an album that could get below at least average to me. Their latest album Honky Tonk is close though. It’s not necessarily bad, so much as it’s boring. So damn boring. I do not understand what happened to this band.
When Uncle Tupelo broke up Farrar seemed to have a fire in his belly. He seemed to have something to say and now everything’s a throwback to a bygone era. First it was the New Multitudes side project and now Honky Tonk. Lately Farrar has found solace in old school music and I can’t fault him for that, but this is a song full of Bakersfield country style honky tonk bores. Even Buck Owens and Gram Parsons livened it up now and then.
I like this band, I’ve seen them play a time or two and I understand the decisions that went into going from Uncle Tupelo to Son Volt. He wanted to continue down that country style path he was on and for the most part it’s worked with great success, but let’s face it, Son Volt hasn’t made a truly great record in a few years and I’m starting to wonder if Farrar even has it in him any longer. Does he have that fire to continue making great music or is it time to burn Son Volt to the ground start over in a new direction?
I don’t know the answer to that question, only he does, but if I’m a fan and writing this how can you expect to garner a new following? How can there be those that finally wise up and say Jay Farrar really knows what he’s doing? I can’t say that anymore, because the music doesn’t move me anymore. It’s all a contrivance of juke joints, dive bars and tumbleweeds. “Hearts and Minds” is the first and best song on the album a little waltzy number that shows what the potential of the album could have been. This is not Son Volt’s finest hour and I feel like a little piece of me inside has died just a little bit because I wrote that.