Son Volt

Record Reviews

Son Volt

Honky Tonk (Rounder)

Anyone coming to Jay Farrar and friends' Honky Tonk thinking they've stumbled onto the next Buck Owens or Dale Watson might not be that disappointed. By the same token, any fans looking for state-of-the-art roots rock band Son Volt may want to look elsewhere. Here, the onetime Uncle Tupelo frontman uses country music, heartbreak, and the road as a jumping-off point to fashion something that's informed by the genre, only updated to contemporary standards. That means neo-traditional country as evidenced by the honky-tonk angels inhabiting the tune "Seawall." In many ways, these 11 songs follow the format of past Son Volt discs, taking their cue from Gram Parsons by adding a scuzzy rock & roll edge to a waltz like "Hearts and Minds" or to the shuffling "Bakersfield." "Down the Highway" might be another road song, but it rumbles as wisely and as tightly as anything on Son Volt's debut masterpiece, Trace. In the end, Honky Tonk is a slow burn, Farrar musing on life as scenery flashes past the van window, and the redemptive power of music. "Sad songs keep the devil away," he sings in "Angel of the Blues," and his keening way with words remains just such tonic.

***.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Faster Than Sound: SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
Virtual festival forecasts incoming local debuts and tentative fall touring.

Rachel Rascoe, March 26, 2021

Faster Than Sound: Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Nostalgic livestream and rising Austin talent fundraise for the Austin Parks Foundation.

Rachel Rascoe, Oct. 16, 2020

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle