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Son Volt

Okemah and the Melody of Riot – 2005 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by T.J. Simon

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CDs by Son Volt

Don't be fooled: this is not your father's Son Volt. For this album, front man Jay Farrar formed an entirely new band under the Son Volt moniker to present his electric side. The good news is that the new band (call it Son Volt or Farrar & Company) is awfully good.

The disc's title refers to the Oklahoma birthplace of Woody Guthrie, and the parallels are clear as Farrar shares Guthrie's wordy, socially-conscious approach to songwriting. Album highlights include "Jet Pilot," a hard driving number that pulls back at just the right time, and "Afterglow 61" which tells a great story of the road under blazing rock guitars. "6 String Belief" is another amazing track that deserves to be heard by the masses. The disc's only clunker is "Medication," a far-eastern guitar noodling abomination that should have been left on the studio floor.

For the uninitiated, a better introduction to the music of Son Volt is the recently-released "A Retrospective: 1995-2000" on Rhino Records. But for those who have already tasted the Son Volt Kool Aid, this enjoyable new release of alt-country infused rock should quench their thirst just fine.