Following Sebastopol came the even more disappointing Terroir Blues, a record so bland and predictable that I figured my time with Farrar came to a halt with Son Volt's 1998 masterpiece Wide Swing Tremolo.
Sometime early last year I took a day off work and planned a solo day trip up to the town of Sebastopol, CA. I'd heard that it was a quaint little liberal town with a great bookstore, one or two bars and a very 50's feel. As I flipped through CDs for the drive, I figured I'd toss in, well, Sebastopol. I hadn't listened to the record in years, and figured it was worth a spin on the ride up. As I pulled into town, I recall "Make It Alright" blaring through the speakers and coming to realize that I was experiencing something new with this record. Later came "Drain", "Different Eyes", "Outside the Door", "Vitamins" and then a return to the beginning of the record. Like many of the greatest records I own, I realized that Sebastopol just needed time. It wasn't a quick record to grasp and the stylistic change in Farrar's work likely caught me off guard a few years back. But now I got it. And the sound, the pounding drums and the beautiful lyrics, made it clear that I'd missed this one. Perhaps this wasn't Trace, but this certainly represented a continuation and maturation in Farrar's musicianship and songwriting. It's one of those rare records that rewards the listener as the years go by and the landscape takes shape.