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Son Volt
Okemah And The Melody Of Riot
Transmit Sound/Legacy Recording

For the faithful, the return of Jay Farrar to a full band is a miraculous and wonderful thing. And despite the fact that the original members of Son Volt did not return (allegedly, none were available for less than an insane amount of money), Farrar has put together a new band that preserves the spirit of his original post-Uncle Tupelo vision very accurately. The new rhythm section is tight and punchy, exactly what one would expect from any project that Farrar was involved with, and the new guitar player is a more than able replacement for Dave Boquist, seamlessly moving from fuzzy leads to smooth slides. The proof of these claims is immediately recognizable upon dropping Okemah And The Melody Of Riot into the CD player.

The album begins with "Bandages & Scars", an obtuse homage to Woody Guthrie filled with clearly chiming guitars, brilliant rhythm work, and the distinct voice and phrasing of Jay Farrar. It is apparent that this will not be a record that it takes a few listens to fall in love with, as the reaction is instant. "Afterglow 61" rocks the speakers a bit more than any of the artistically stunning music that Farrar has produced on his past few solo recordings, going for the gut more than for the ears. This is solid, pure Son Volt magic. "Jet Pilot" borrows a few licks from earlier Son Volt tracks and morphs them just enough to sound fresh under their blanket of tremolo-heavy crystalline guitar and the keen urgency of Farrar's vocal delivery. If you are a fan of Farrar's slow down tracks, then you will not be disappointed when songs like "Atmosphere" sneak up on you. The sounds are exercises in perfection, and the lyrics maintain that unbelievably raw and beautiful Farrar poetry. "Ipecac" moves the album into acoustic guitar territory, showcasing slide licks that are instantly familiar and immediately evoke the spirit of Son Volt of old, clean old-school country rhythms, and a host of stirring melodies. "Endless War" is a dark, heavy track filled with some brilliant guitar playing that nicely offsets the heavy drums and throbbing bass.

There are no losers in this tremendous era of a new Son Volt. Okemah... is a collection of songs that showcases not only the powerful songwriting talents of Jay Farrar, but also the musical talents of a younger generation of players that were inspired by the original Son Volt line-up. The songs are beautiful, the sounds are a tapestry of alt-country perfection, and lyrically Farrar is still riding the wave at the top of his game. Long live rock!

-L. Keane

Track Listing:
1. Bandages & Scars
2. Afterglow 61
3. Jet Pilot
4. Atmosphere
5. Ipecac
6. Who
7. Endless War
8. Medication
9. 6 String Belief
10. Gramophone
11. Chaos Streams
12. World Waits For You
13. World Waits For You (reprise)

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