SON VOLT | 05.11.07 | ATLANTA

Words by: Drew Iden :: Images by: Jeremy Jones

Son Volt :: 05.11.07 :: Variety Playhouse :: Atlanta, GA

Son Volt :: 05.11
For years, Son Volt has been identified primarily with the distinctive voice and songwriting of bandleader, Jay Farrar. He and his band mates have weaved a thread in the alt-country scene that some love, and well, some don't. In their first foray into the Big Peach since last year, Son Volt returned in support of their latest effort, The Search (3/6/07 Transmit Sound/Legacy), the second album since Farrar's return to the band after a hiatus that was met with disappointment by many fans. His solo work, while critically hailed, just didn't match the rock power of Son Volt.

Farrar - Son Volt :: 05.11
With a new lead guitarist, Farrar and company spun through a 23-song set and four-song encore that had the crowd on their feet the whole time. For those who don't have any use for between song chatter, Son Volt is your band. Farrar spoke very little, opening with a simple "rock on" before they charged into the new album's title track. Farrar's voice, long the highlight of this band, hasn't changed one bit in almost 20 years. While personnel come and go, Farrar stays true to his conversational style.

The new single, "The Picture," may give old school Son Volt fans a reason to raise an eyebrow. Its saxophone and trumpet sound gives it a ska feel, not something old Volt fans are used to hearing. Live, the horns were a great addition and the crowd embraced them with full enthusiasm. "Underground Dream" followed, its melancholy sound makes it true a gem and the band was able to clearly translate it to the stage in a way that was nothing short of beautiful.

Son Volt :: 05.11

The band's regular guitarist, Brad Rice, has been a no-show on this tour due to his work with Keith Urban, but his replacement, Chris Masterson, is capably filling his shoes. Masterson's style coupled with Farrar's voice proved to be an incredible combination throughout the show, like a pair of old friends finishing each other's thoughts.

Masterson & Farrar - Son Volt :: 05.11
While heavy on new material, Son Volt peppered their set with some old classics. Once Farrar got out his weathered acoustic and struck the opening chords to "Tear Stained Eye" the crowd was stoked and relieved. They also brought out perhaps their best known cut, "Windfall," towards the end of the set. It's about as country as Son Volt gets.

After an hour, it was clear Son Volt has a very blue-collar attitude. They played for about two hours, and managed to squeeze in 27 songs, finishing one and going right into the next with no hesitation. Most bands are hard pressed to offer up more than 14 or 15 songs in concert but Son Volt does things their way - charging hard through 20 or more songs on a nightly basis, and Atlanta was no exception.

Son Volt :: 05.11
While the new tunes were embraced, it was clear that the old hits were what most in attendance wanted to hear. Farrar and company satisfied that need with "Tear Stained Eye," "Drown" and a rearranged version of "Voodoo Candle." Towards the end, they found a bluesy spot on a prairie filled with primarily rock and country on "Damn Shame," a tune from Farrar's Sebastopol solo effort, where he displayed great harmonica rhythm and even a few short guitar solos which allowed Masterson to showcase his incredible slide work.

Son Volt's current lineup is clearly an ensemble effort, with everyone holding his own. Masterson is more than capable of carrying the torch lit by Brad Rice, and the rhythm section of Andrew Duplantis (bass) and Dave Bryson (drums) are still great, as they have been from day one. Derry De Borja showed solid range on the keyboards, melding piano and Hammond B-3 together all night long.

Son Volt has crafted some great music over the years, and despite a few hiccups, they've managed to stay true to the sound they created after the implosion of Uncle Tupelo, a band many consider the catalyst for the alt-country scene. A solid rock foundation with pinches of country and blues for good measure, Son Volt was clearly up to all their old tricks.

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[Published on: 5/24/07]

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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} star Fri 5/25/2007 05:47AM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstar Fri 5/25/2007 06:11AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Vega Productions starstarstarstar Fri 5/25/2007 06:25AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Vega Productions

"these kinds of music"...

there is a reason bands like Wilco, Son Volt and WSP have been around for so long---because they are damn good and have a solid following of fans. Pull your head out of your ass and learn to appreciate good musicianship, even if you don't fancy their style.

21mmer Fri 5/25/2007 07:41AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


milesgone......son volt and wilco used to tour together....are you familiar w/ uncle tupelo? however, i seriously doubt if you would see tweedy and farrar on the same stage in the near future. too bad.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} star Fri 5/25/2007 09:16AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

don't feel sorry for me guys.. I would never pay to see either of these bands. this is only personal preference I have no hard feelings about it, I just rather spend money on other bands. Having LISTENED to both new albums of each, I just do not find the music to be fantastic to my tastes. I get to hear the new albums because I work in radio and they have both been on our playlist. Excuse me mgehring, my head is firmly attached to my shoulders its not in my ass thank you. peas.

SundogWill starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/25/2007 09:17AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I was at this show, and it was great, if you like Son Volt, which I do. The new album is fantastic and the players, especially the drummer, were top-notch. I was pleasantly surprised to see an almost-capacity crowd and it was cool to hear everyone sing the songs back to Jay....not that he showed any reaction. God Bless him but the man is a robot. The alt-country RainMan.


mcmanust Fri 5/25/2007 12:11PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

If you don't care then why do you come on this thread to let everyone you don't care? doesn't make any sense. If I didn't care about something, I wouldn't even read the article. You're just looking for a reaction.

claypool4life Mon 5/28/2007 12:36PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I have heard alot about this band never listened to them they sound good. Can anyone suggest me a good starting album?

trustme Mon 5/28/2007 04:12PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Last year I went to HSMF for the first time and SonVolt was to play. The HSMF website does bios on every artist. They pumped up Son Volt pretty well so when then came through Portland before the fest I thought I should check them out. My first exposure to them was...well..not good. I think when the song writing is the strong point of a band a person should try to soak up the album before a live show. For me there was just no connection at the show. Maybe the shallow side of me was waiting for some hook to grab me or ? If the guy was such a monster song writer it didn't come across in their arrangements, i.m.o. Anyways it was a sleeper enough of a show to have me skip their sets at HSMF. To their credit I went with an existing Son Volt fan and he thought the show was "killer", so who knows, ya know.

slowtorpedo810 Wed 5/30/2007 01:13PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Hey claypool4life, a good starting album would be Trace, their first album...I suggest "windfall" "route" and "tear-stained eye".

Whylago Thu 5/31/2007 07:52AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I had to miss this show and this bummed me out. The new album is some of the best new music available.