Further Review : Son Volt "The Search"

Why I initially dismissed this record is beyond me. I don't recall 2007 as an outstanding year. You know, the kind of year where some records get lost in the shuffle. Who knows. Maybe it was the beginning of my big soul period. Whatever the reason, I know it didn't make my top ten of the year, and after the past week, it clearly should have.

When I heard Bruce Springsteen mention this record in an interview, I was perplexed. Of all the Son Volt records, The Search, really? Has the man heard the first three or even Okemah? Well, maybe he has and he's just die-hard. Man, Bruce rules.

After last weeks phenomenal performance, I've been all over Jay Farrar the past week. My last.fm weekly report reveals utter Farrar saturation. My top four: Son Volt 332, Tim Easton 160, Farrar/Gibbard 107, Jay Farrar 90. That is 529 Farrar songs in one week. Add in Uncle Tupelo and we're up to 547. And this isn't counting vinyl. If Scrobb could somehow pull vinyl spins, I'd probably eclipse 1,000. Okay, that's kind of weird.

Back to The Search. I've spent the majority of the week listening to Farrar post 2000. I know the records pre-millenium so well that I figured it was time to really dive into the more recent stuff. Despite having a newfound love for them all, it's their 2007 release that's really showing its life. The record opens with the beautifully haunting "Slow Hearse," a lyrically simple yet musically driving song that perfectly captures what's to come. Following this comes horns aplenty with "The Picture," a song that not only pumps me up, but helped me to learn what the hell 'flotsam and jetsam' means. In usual Farrar form, he can't leave off the ballads and "Underground Dream" is one of his tops in years. "Beacon Soul" picks things back up and "Adrenaline and Heresy" feels like part two of the opening track. It's as if something about that hearse has a follow-up and it's found here.

I've heard many a Son Volt purist (something that I'm clearing becoming again) name "Methamphetamine" as perhaps Jay Farrar's best song. Yes, they're including Uncle Tupelo and the early SV days. I once found that laughable. I mean, the guy wrote "Chickamauga," "Medicine Hat," "Driving the View," "Looking for a Way Out" and about 50 other jaw-droppers. But the more I listen, the more I do agree that it's a fantastic song. And man, perusing the lyrics right now, I just realized that he mentions the horrific company Monsanto (who were profiled in Food, Inc., and I spent hours reading about today). Could this guy be more classic?

I am so happy to have Son Volt back into regular rotation. Their first three records are so amazing that perhaps the subsequent ones just couldn't live up. But that's changed now. The Search proves that Farrar's still got it. And this year's American Central Dust adds further proof.


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