Son Volt, 'American Central Dust' (Rounder)

Critical Mass

by Jon Young

With his mournful aura and literary urges, Son Volt leader Jay Farrar could be considered the opposite of fun. Still, he's an eloquent, thought-provoking dude, whether describing a true-life nautical disaster ("Sultana"), lamenting industrial America's decline ("When the Wheels Don't Move") or pondering mortality via Keith Richards ("Cocaine and Ashes"). And the energetic players temper Farrar's grave persona -- for all the vintage touches, this is a deceptively funky band, as the sultry "Down to the Wire" proves.



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