“Break up the silence
Make it clear
Make it last…” – “Down the Highway”
From his earliest recordings in the 1990s as a founding member of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar has been a keen observer of the American landscape: its beauties and its tragedies, salvations and poisons.
It’s a perspective that’s been hard-won by steady touring and travel through this nation, and Farrar’s almost two-decades as the leader of Son Volt (as well as impressive turns as an acclaimed solo artist and collaborator) have only deepened and sharpened his gift for capturing the sights and sounds of his American journey – a gift which is in evidence once again on Son Volt’s sixth studio album: Honky Tonk.
After all, few places are as quintessentially American as the honky tonks where neon beckons to lonely and discontented souls with the promise that sorrows can be drowned in whiskey, cigarettes and a timeless music in which the clear hard truths of its lyrics mine the emotional complexities of life and love as fiddle and pedal steel sweetly commiserate.
“Honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road,” Farrar observes.
That music provides a touchstone for eleven new Son Volt songs that excavate the classic honky tonk sound of Bakersfield (and Texas and Tennessee too) yet distill and reimagine it. Honky Tonk stays true to what’s so appealing about honky tonk music, while stretching out its familiar contours into new shapes and spaces.
Farrar reflects that as he wrote and recorded the music so deeply steeped in tradition for Honky Tonk, “I realized I also wanted these songs to sound more contemporary and modern. There was no strict adherence to methodology of the past. You never want to be a nostalgia act.”
“Always a common thread between us…” – “Heart and Minds”