Jay Farrar had been in Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt. In 2001, he launched out on a solo career which effectively lasted from 2001-2004. I think the experience taught him one thing – people were more interested in records with the name Son Volt on the cover than those bearing the name Jay Farrar. Shortly after that he wrested control of the name “Son Volt” and it became a canny cover for his continuing solo recordings albeit ones with a slightly more electric feel than the ones he recorded in the four years that he left the band name to one side.
If you like Son Volt, you really shouldn’t neglect his solo albums. If you like albums in the singer / songwriter or Americana traditions, you really shouldn’t miss those albums either. A good place to start might be the live album “Live in Seattle” which was recorded in 2003 and captures many of the best songs from his solo tenure with Farrar on guitar and harmonica sparsely accompanied by Mark Spencer (from Blood Oranges) alternating on guitar and bass and Eric Heywood on pedal steel.
This live set has 15 tracks. All but one – the encore “White Freightliner Blues” which is a Townes Van Zandt cover – are culled from the four studio discs that made up Farrar’s solo tenure to date.
The 2001 album was Sebastopol. From that we have “Make it Alright”, “Feel Free”, “Barstow”, “Damn Shame”, “Vitamins”, “Feed Kill Chain” and “Voodoo Candle”.
The 2002 album was a film soundtrack, The Slaughter Rule. A song called “Gather” is included on the live album.
The 2002 EP, ThirdShiftGrottoSlack, had a different version of “Damn Shame”
The 2003 album, “Terroir Blues” is also handsomely represented. “California”, “Heart on the Ground”, “No Rolling Back”, “All of Your Might”, “Cahokian” and “Fool King’s Crown” can all be found on the Seattle live album.
If you didn’t pick up on them initially then why not start with the live disc which is available from jayfarrar.net and then if you find its as strong as I think you will, you could collect them all.