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  Listen Up! 9/2/02 Listen Up!

Monday, Sept. 2

Son Volt, “Trace,” Warner Bros. Records. This is the Son Volt album everybody points to as the classic. Not me. I like it fine, and occasionally (“Drown” in particular) love it. But I thought “Wide Spring Tremelo” was much better, more diverse, and more reflective of Jay Farrar’s gift, which is to rock up country music like he was trying to cool down a garage punk band. In other words, his voice sounds best up against revved-up guitars and flailing drums, and “Trace” has so many of those languid ballads. Any one or two of them can move me, but not so much in the aggregate. Aw, heck, this all sounds like I’m more down on this album than I am. It’s really fine, just not as good as the band became after a couple more years.

--Steve Pick



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