On March 18th 2013, Son Volt will release Honky Tonk, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2009’s critically lauded American Central Dust.
The album features eleven new Son Volt songs that are inspired by the classic honky tonk sound of Bakersfield. Bandleader Jay Farrar observes, “Honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road.” He reflects that as he wrote and recorded the songs so deeply steeped in tradition, “I wanted these songs to sound more contemporary and modern. There was no strict adherence to methodology of the past. You never want to be a nostalgia act.”
Honky Tonk sees Son Volt moving forward on the path of a more acoustic-based sound. Many of its compositions mine a thematic lyrical vein inspired by a traditional country music aesthetic, which Farrar first explored onAmerican Central Dust. Farrar recalls, “I was always averse to using certain words in songs, including ‘love’ and ‘heart.’ But I started using them on American Central Dust, and now I guess the floodgates have opened.”
Indeed, many of Honky Tonk’s songs dwell on affairs of the heart, including the album’s opener, “Hearts and Minds,” a speedy Cajun waltz which assays the delicate balance between love’s steadfastness and its caprice, the plaintive “Brick Walls,” and “Barricades,” which affirms the necessity of pushing forward in the face of overwhelming despair and defeat.
Farrar recalls how his decision to learn a new instrument inspired an intense exploration of honky tonk music: “In the time between Son Volt records, I started learning pedal steel guitar. I play with a local band in St. Louis now and then called Colonel Ford. So I was immersed in honky tonk music, the Bakersfield sound, in particular. And it was almost second nature when I started writing the songs for this record.”
Honky Tonk and Farrar’s forthcoming book, Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs (Counterpoint Press, 2013) both continue his ongoing exploration of America’s landscape through the redemptive power of its music. Yet for all its hearkening back to a classic sound, Farrar and company make Honky Tonk feel vital, fresh, and new.
Honky Tonk Tracklist:
1. Hearts and Minds
2. Brick Walls
3. Wild Side
4. Down the Highway
6. Livin’ On
7. Tears of Change
8. Angel of the Blues
11. Shine On
Son Volt On Tour in the USA:
April 10 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN April 11 – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
April 12 – Terminal West – Atlanta, GA April 13 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
April 14 – Bijou Theatre – Knoxville, TN April 16 – WorkPlay Theatre – Birmingham, AL
April 17 – The Parish – New Orleans, LA April 18 – Continental Club – Houston, TX
April 19 – Old Settler’s Music Festival – Austin, TX April 20 – Sons of Herman Hall – Dallas, TX
Son Volt Honky Tonk [116619145-2] Available March 18, 2013
Son Volt was formed in 1993 out of the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, a band Jay Farrar fronted with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Son Volt went on to become one of the leading bands of the burgeoning alternative country movement.