Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
When Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, his former partner in Uncle Tupelo, split up in 1994, the common wisdom was that Tweedy was the melodic and optimistic Paul McCartney of the team, while Farrar was the cathartic and moody J... more »
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When Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, his former partner in Uncle Tupelo, split up in 1994, the common wisdom was that Tweedy was the melodic and optimistic Paul McCartney of the team, while Farrar was the cathartic and moody John Lennon. That analogy seemed to stand up when Wilco's debut disc A.M. was sweet and tuneful, while the first album by Farrar's Son Volt, Trace, was angst-ridden country-rock. Tweedy transcended his pigeonhole with the diverse, ambitious Being There, but Farrar remains trapped in his on Son Volt's follow-up Straightaways, a more laid-back, understated version of Trace. Farrar does one thing really well, and that is his use of a gravelly baritone and suspended guitar chords to capture the exhaustion and desperation of a man at the end of his rope. Unfortunately, he tends to do it over and over and over again. --Geoffrey Himes
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Better than Trace
G. McCoy | Kansas City, MO | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I played this record nearly every morning in the summer of 1997 and can attest that (like most great records) if you give it several good listens it will capture you. I have both this one and Trace and strongly prefer Straightaways for several reasons: superior melodies, better playing (acoustic work is tastier), better vocals, more interesting lyrical themes, a better rocker (Caryatid Easy is surely one of the hardest rocking alt-country song of all time), and greater emotional depth.
Like many alt-country records, this one is about missed chances, lost love, loneliness, alienation, and wounded men yearning to recover. There isn't an obvious radio hit like 'Windfall' from Trace, but these songs are a little more earnest, in my view, and they're also a little better written. Many have disagreed in the previous reviews here, but I'm sticking to my guns: I almost never pull out Trace, but I've revisited Straightaways nearly every year since I bought it, and I haven't yet stopped enjoying it. I should clarify that I'm not really arguing against Trace, which is also a great record and a must-have if you're an Uncle Tupelo or Jay Farrar (or alt-country) fan, but I think this one is also a must-have, and I think it's a better record than Trace."
Not-surprisingly underrated masterpiece of American rock
greg allen | Hampton, VA | 04/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It adds up that the monster debut "Trace" by Son Volt (with a bona-fide hit single) would shade future releases, no matter how earnest and eclectic and far-reachingly successful in extending that initial vision. But the fact remains that many of the "Straightaways" songs were performed by Son Volt on their initial tour (which dilutes the critique of the songwriting as sub-par), and many of them were written on the road (which encapsulates the Son Volt vision rather explicitly, being that they are sort of road-weary travelogue types anyway). In other words, I'd give the nod to country music performed by non-urbanites, and this album likewise shimmers with self-confidence and cheer.Highlights: the riff to "Picking Up the Signal"; the opening vocal of "Caryatid Easy"; the low-down slidy pedal steel whine about 10 seconds into "Left a Slide"; you know, the typical Son Volt stuff (I sure miss it). This band had a handle on something that many emulated but few could equal, and I consider this the second volume of a darned good trilogy, and a masterpiece of stately music in its own right.Fact: while performing the tour for this album throughout the Southern United States, Son Volt deliberately slowed the songs down to a crawl, the tempo as languid as those summer nights themselves. A great album from a very vibrant and exciting band."
Only a short-term disappointment!
greg allen | 01/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who were disappointed in "Straightaways" -- at first, I was, too. Fortunately, the Jayhawks outstanding "Sound of Lies" was released the same day. I bought both and taped them back-to-back. I must admit that only sheer laziness kept me listening to "Straightaways" through to keep getting back to "SOL." Funny thing -- after 20 or so listens, it all fell into place. Songs that seemed to go nowhere at first listen were now complete and compelling. Songs like "Left a Slide," which had filled me with frustration for seeming to fall so short of their potential now seem perfect. My advice -- invest the time, listen some more. You'll be glad you did."