Format: CD
Label: Sbme/Legacy
Catalog: 94743
Rel. Date: 07/12/2005
UPC: 827969474327

Okemah & The Melody Of Riot
Artist: Son Volt
Format: CD

Available Formats and Editions


The problem with Son Volt's got-it-back-together album, Okemah and the Melody of Riot, is that it's actually just Jay Farrar's eighth solo album. Or it sounds like it anyway: blues-based honky tonk with loud, smudged guitars and Farrar's prolonged, worn vocals. And then there's some placid noise experimentation ("Endless War") and a little south of the border flavor ("Medication"). Farrar may not sound exactly the same on every album, but that doesn't mean he ever sounds any different, which isn't surprising, given his adherence to a traditional alt-country sound since his first band, Uncle Tupelo, split, and he and bandmate Jeff Tweedy went their very separate ways. Tweedy's Wilco has been able to touch a popular audience, but Farrar has only really held onto Tupelo hardliners.

Of course, Farrar knows who he is. This album is littered with tales of life on a lost highway. Songs like "Afterglow 61" solidify him as a guy that just can't let go of the romantic, open West that the Woody Guthrie he sings about inspired. That nostalgic romanticism for the past, though, is why Farrar fails in the most important element of the Guthrie tradition: protest. On "Jet Pilot" he sings, "The revolution will be televised across the living rooms of the great divide." You can say whatever you want about recreating the past in your music, but doing the bait-and-switch with Gil Scott-Heron's words? That's foolish. There are a lot more pressing and threatening ideologies that could be flipped on their head. Or maybe Farrar is just being clever, which would be sick.