Son Volt, “American Central Dust” (Rounder)
Son Volt’s newest album “American Central Dust” oozes the kind of sultry alt-country heat that seeps into your ears.
Leader Jay Farrar may get less attention than Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, his bandmate in seminal ’90s band Uncle Tupelo, but his talent as a singer-songwriter is abundantly clear on “Dust.”
Farrar’s world-weary twang and poetic, politically inspired lyrics elevate such tunes as “Down to the Wire” and “When the Wheels Don’t Move,” with its distorted guitar and railing against the car industry. A country-ish Flying Burrito Brothers vibe courses throughout.
Live, the tunes sound even better.
At a recent show in Los Angeles, Farrar’s voice lifted up in bright harmony, backed by lead guitarist Chris Masterson’s spiraling riffs, Andrew Duplantis’ noodling bass, Mark Spencer’s slinky lap steel and organ and Dave Bryson’s expert drumming.
“Body and soul, cocaine and ashes/ We’ll get to that place in time,” Farrar sang with verve on the gorgeous “Cocaine and Ashes,” a passionate tribute to Keith Richards, on record.
Skillful, smart, soulful, Son Volt is already there.
CHECK THIS OUT: “Dust of Daylight,” a beautiful, graceful ballad, slow rides on pedal steel, as Farrar emotes, “Love is a fog, and you stumble every step you make.”