Son Volt - Notes Of Blue album review

Alt.country heroes look to their blues and folk legends

Cover art for Son Volt - Notes Of Blue album

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From his earliest days in Uncle Tupelo, when they roughed up No Depression by American folk dynasty The Carter Family, alt.country figurehead Jay Farrar has been more an enthusiastic musical historian than a wannabe star. With Son Volt’s eighth album, he cites Mississippi Fred McDowell, Skip James and Nick Drake as pressure points of influence.

They can certainly all be heard, in the delicate fingerpicking, mournful slide and Appalachian melodies, but they’re touchstones to build on, rather than something to slavishly recreate. So the gorgeous Back Against The Wall has an anthemic, Tom Petty everyman feel to it, Lost Souls is enveloped in stomping, garagey, antique amp fuzz, and ominous closer Threads And Steel shares an inky Wild West storytelling vibe with Nick Cave. And Farrar’s voice, as ever, has a timeless, ageless strength.

Don’t judge this album by the hokey title – there’s gold to be uncovered here.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.