What does it sound like?:
Hard to believe it’s more than 30 years since Uncle Tupelo released No Depression and defined the alt-country / Americana movement, at least by reputation if not by their own design. That band’s moment of glory was all too brief; by 1995 Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar had split and released albums under the banners of their new outfits. While Wilco might be said to have strayed further and more experimentally from the Uncle Tupelo sound, it is Jay Farrar’s Son Volt that has stayed truer to the alt-country template. This latest album doesn’t sound that much different from 1995’s Trace, but that said, there is something irresistibly attractive about Jay Farrar’s mournfully warm and distinctive voice. Like more recent Son Volt albums, Electro Melodier concerns itself heavily with political issues, expressed most obviously (and least subtly) on Living in the USA, a kind of Born in the USA for millennials. There are songs on matters of the heart too – particularly the lovely Diamonds and Cigarettes, which features harmonies from Laura Cantrell, and Lucky Ones. War on Misery is a sparse blues with a brushed drum shuffle, These are the Times rocks like classic Son Volt, akin to something on Wide Swing Tremolo. Like You is a reflective ‘state of the world’ rumination, over piano and softly strummed acoustic guitar.
What does it all *mean*?
This is Son Volt’s tenth album, and while it may not be that different from the other nine, that is also part of its strength. There are decent songs here, arguably the band’s strongest set for a while, and while Jeff Tweedy may not be rushing out to buy his own copy, there is plenty to whet the appetite of those for whom Jay Farrar’s Uncle Tupelo songs were always the stronger.
Goes well with…
A natural extension to previous album, Union, but not a million miles away from the peerless Sauget Wind.
30th July 2021
Might suit people who like…
Anything else by Son Volt….