Album review | Americana

Son Volt, ‘Honky Tonk’


Gorgeous twin fiddle interludes beckoning you down a dusty road; heart-pinging pedal steel evoking a sense of disconsolate solitude; a mournful voice singing that there are more brick walls than bridges on the path to a lover’s heart; a wistful query about whether honky-tonk angels still walk among us; a waltz-time ode to the open road that feels like the last dance on a cozy Saturday night. As the age-old debate of what constitutes country music continues in some quarters, Son Volt leader Jay Farrar quietly, and compellingly, makes a case for the classic sounds on the beguiling “Honky Tonk,” with a tip of the cap to Bakersfield, Calif., and Nashville in the vintage groove. While heartache is a common theme, there is also hope in songs like “Barricades,” as a wild spirit aims to remain free. Tying it all together is Farrar’s voice, which somehow manages to sound both plain-spoken and nakedly emotive. Whether looking to drown their sorrows or lift their spirits, Son Volt fans will definitely want to sit a spell in this “Honky Tonk.” (Out Tuesday) SARAH RODMAN

ESSENTIAL “Brick Walls”

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