Son Volt (from the album Notes of Blue)
The latest Son Volt release, Notes of Blue, is forceful, an electric prod that brands the band’s version of Alt Country with a power that pounds the tracks into form. The album drifts in being with light chord strums as pedal steel and fiddle strings roll over an easy melody on “Promise the World”, the storyline urging humanity walk upright through the hurdles and pitfalls life puts in our path. Jay Farrar has guided Son Volt over a course of twenty albums, continuing to hold aloft the banner of Indie Roots with an ancient tone to a voice that soothes with its calmness and stories that do not give up their secrets easily yet leave inspiration and hope in their wake.
Blues can be found in the album, in the dreamy soundscapes that float across “Cairo and Southern”, the deep rumble that courses under “Threads and Steel”, and the rolling groove of “Sinking Down” though the Notes of Blue title does not directly point to the genre. The theme of the album is not defined by the style as a musical ambition though the overall mood of the album is saturated in the feeling of the Blues. Jay Farrar gave some background for the aura that surrounds Notes of Blue, stating that ‘For years I’ve been drawn to the passion, common struggle and possibility for redemption that’s always been a part of the Blues. Everyone has to pay the rent and get along with their significant others, so many of the themes are universal. For me, the blues fills that void that’s there for religion, really. That’s the place I turn to be lifted up’. A darkness rises in a ragged notes and rhythm of “Midnight” while sharp-edged guitar strings slash the structure of “Static” and quiet acoustic rambles blow softly over “The Storm” as Notes Of Blue stomps out a determined beat to introduce ”Lost Souls”. An electricity crackles as Son Volt recall the lustful heat and memories that rose up from “Cherokee Street” as they provide a DIY for survival in the anthemic rock’n’roll delivery and promises found in “Back Against the Wall”.