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Jay Farrar
Stone, Steel And Bright Lights
Artemis Records/ Transmit Sound

Some are lucky enough to have seen Jay Farrar in concert since he [disbanded] Son Volt and struck out on his own. Maybe you've been lucky enough to have seen him, either solo acoustic, or with a band. For anyone who's missed out on these amazing times, now we've been given Stone, Steel and Bright Lights. Nineteen live tracks of Farrar musical beauty spanning his two solo records, as well as a few great Son Volt songs, and a fantasticly noisy cover of Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane". These songs were culled from a number of shows in the fall of 2003, but the record flows as if it were one amazing night, all in itself.

The album kicks off with a few numbers, just Jay and his acoustic guitar, that set the pace a little bit low of mid-tempo. An amazing acoustic version of "6 String Belief" leads us nicely into the bands appearance on "Feel Free". This live version stands out over the album track due to the immediacy of the drumming. Same beat, more push. The band lashes through an energetically laid back "Make It Alright", into a very acoustic and intimate "No Rolling Back", and then jumps straight into a miraculous rendition of "Damn Shame", which is a perfect juxtaposition of the original album version with the "Memphis mix" found on the thirdshiftgrottoslack ep. The song sings with intensity and beautiful rhythms, outstripping either of the previously recorded versions. This is just one small example of the amazing moments on this record. Just when I begin to think it can't get any better, it does. Just when I start to think that there is no way for a song to feel more personal and intense, I am proved wrong. Just when I start to think I can maybe skip ahead a song or 2, I am floored by the intro and stay glued to the speakers, rapt with aural bliss. And don't forget to stay tuned to catch the covers at the tail of the album… they are both wonderfully noisy and filled with the joy of a band completely in it's element, having a very good time doing exactly what they obviously love to do.

This album will make a believer out of anyone who claims to not be a fan of live recordings. Each song is filled with soul, and the entire record is second only to being in the audience at a show. This recording is that emotive. One listen to Stone, Steel and Bright Lights will have you sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for the next opportunity to catch Farrar live. Hopefully it will not be far away. I guess you could try this… It's not exactly the same as being there in the same room as the band… but I suppose if you turn your stereo up really loud and stand right in front of the speaker, it'd come pretty close.

-Embo Blake

1. Doesn't Have To Be This Way
2. Greenwich Time
3. 6 String Belief
4. Feel Free
5. Make It Alright
6. No Rolling Back
7. Damn Shame
8. All Of Your Might
9. Cahokian
10. Heart On The Ground
11. California
12. Fool King's Crown
13. Vitamins
14. Voodoo Candle
15. Damaged Son
16. Feed Kill Chain
17. Clear Day Thunder
18. Lucifer Sam
19. Like A Hurricane


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