Son Volt: Honky Tonk

Rounder Records

Last year Neil Young released Americana, and now Jay Farrar has Honky Tonk. Made up of originals, unlike Young's album, these songs could be traditionals given Son Volt's take on authentic country music. You feel sawdust beneath your feet two-stepping lightly over the "Wild Side," waltzing past "Tears of Change," and moving "Down the Highway" amid the trill of mandolin and swelling Hammond organ. Farrar's artless lyrical style amplifies the sentiments with its simplicity. Hear it in the George Jones-esque "Brick Walls," where he laments, "There's more brick walls than bridges on the way to your heart." Or when he's "going for broke with a film noir smile" on the album's gentle elegy "Shine On," where homespun charm disguises modern sensibilities - Farrar evoking Young channeling Hank Williams. (4 out of 5 stars)