Okemah and the Melody of Riot [DualDisc]

Okemah and the Melody of Riot [DualDisc]

5.0 1
by Son Volt
     
 

The title of this rebirth disc points pretty squarely in the direction(s) that Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar is steering his ship, what with its references to the town that gave us Woody Guthrie and the spirit of both picket-line protest folk and guttersnipe punk. Farrar seems plenty pissed these days, judgingSee more details below

Overview

The title of this rebirth disc points pretty squarely in the direction(s) that Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar is steering his ship, what with its references to the town that gave us Woody Guthrie and the spirit of both picket-line protest folk and guttersnipe punk. Farrar seems plenty pissed these days, judging by the slashing guitars and acerbic lyrics that permeate songs like "Jet Pilot," which calls out certain unnamed leaders for warmongering despite a personal history of dodging combat service. That's but one of the flat-out rockers that jump from the disc's grooves -- the moodier, more abstract "Afterglow 61" is another -- but Okemah and the Melody of Riot isn't merely an exercise in pumping up the volume. Farrar makes a 180-degree turn from that approach on the album's first version of "World Waits for You," on which he delivers the song's openhearted lyrics over a solo piano backing (the fully orchestrated reprise of the tune that closes the disc offers more solace, underscoring the hopeful tenor that creeps in after a verse or two). And even though Farrar expresses a good deal of anger (in the martial stride of the populist anthem "Atmosphere") and confusion (in the psychedelic haze of "Medication"), the ultimate note is one of uplift. Okemah and the Melody of Riot is certainly not the work of a man who's found peace, but it does seem like the labor of one who's going to keep searching for it, leaving directions for listeners along the way.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
While there was never much question that Jay Farrar was the guiding light behind Son Volt, he's managed to extinguish any lingering doubts about that issue with Okemah and the Melody of Riot, his first album under the Son Volt handle since 1998's Wide Swing Tremolo. While Okemah sure sounds and feels like a Son Volt album; as it happens, Farrar is the only musician in the band's new lineup who had ever played with Son Volt before, which for good or ill firmly establishes him as the sole architect of the group's musical approach. While it's anyone's guess why Farrar turned from his solo career back to the Son Volt format (especially since it's obvious Farrar is the man in charge under either circumstance), whatever the billing, the results are impressive -- Okemah and the Melody of Riot is a compelling, strongly focused work that stands as Farrar's best music since Son Volt's debut album, 1994's Trace. While Farrar's songwriting is still in his usual enigmatic mode on Okemah, there is a noticeably stronger lyrical focus here, especially on the (apparently) anti-Bush screeds "Jet Pilot" and "Ipecac" and the rabble-rousing opening cut, "Bandages and Scars"; Farrar obviously has something to say about the state of post-millennial America, and if the letter of the message is vague, the passion of his delivery speaks volumes. And while Farrar's solo albums had an unfortunate habit of meandering, Okemah thankfully sounds muscular and driven, with Farrar and Brad Rice bringing a healthy share of guitar firepower to the songs, and bassist Andrew DuPlantis and drummer Dave Bryson charging the songs with lean but sinewy force. If much of Jay Farrar's music since the breakup of Uncle Tupelo sounds like the work of a man looking for a fresh direction and a true sound, Okemah and the Melody of Riot finds him with a firm grasp of his talent and a fresh reserve of conviction; it's a bracing and welcome return to form for an important artist. (Okemah and the Melody of Riot has been released in a special "DualDisc" edition, with a DVD side fused to the audio CD. The DVD side features an EPK-style documentary, "Break Through the Lens," which features interviews with Farrar, video footage from the webcast recording sessions for the album, and live performances from the new Son Volt, including one otherwise unreleased new song, "Joe Citizen Blues." The full album also appears in enhanced audio on the DVD side, accompanied by a lyric display.)
New York Times - Ben Ratliff
The band's underlying, stubborn seriousness, and nearly Amish unwillingness to change, creates its appeal.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/12/2005
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969474327
catalogNumber:
94743

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Son Volt   Primary Artist
Jay Farrar   Guitar,Harmonica,Piano,Vocals
Brad Rice   Guitar
Eric Heywood   Pedal Steel Guitar
Mark Spencer   Organ,Background Vocals,Slide Guitar
Andrew Duplantis   Bass,Background Vocals
Dave Bryson   Drums
John Horton   Slide Guitar

Technical Credits

John Agnello   Engineer
Greg Calbi   Mastering
Jay Farrar   Composer,Producer
Danny Littwin   Engineer
Josh Cheuse   Art Direction
Steve Fallone   Digital Editing
UE Nastasi   Mastering
Scott Norton   Engineer
Woody Pornpitaksuk   Mastering

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