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Son Volt

Trace – 1995 (Warner)

Reviewed by Don Yates

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CDs by Son Volt

After the breakup of pioneering alternative-country band Uncle Tupelo, it looked like the end of the line for the band's large cult following, who found musical nirvana in Uncle Tupelo's blend of indie-rock guts and heartfelt country twang. The legacy continues, however, in Wilco and Son Volt, respectively led by former Tupelo principals Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar.

While Wilco reflects the lighter, more melodic side of Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt continues Farrar's exploration of darker territory. The album is one of the strongest yet to come from the burgeoning alternative-country movement. While the record at times reflects the raucousness of early Tupelo ( "Route" and "Drown"), the album's most powerful moments are the acoustic-oriented ballads, providing the most effective settings for Farrar's mournful, world-weary vocals and evocative, near-mystical lyrics. "Windfall" and "Tear-Stained Eye" are timeless.

Even though Uncle Tupelo is long gone, Son Volt created an impressive disc reassuring the faithful of the continued vitality of the vision behind the band.