"Truth is a state of mind" opined Jay Farrar in Tear Stained Eye, the keynote track on Trace, Son Volt's sublime debut album from 1995.
Working on a 20th anniversary remastered reissue of this album forced Farrar to reflect on the legacy of his band and prompted him to dust off the amp that he used on that record. It also inspired the electric blues slant their 8th album takes.
Which all goes to show that, two decades on, nothing much has changed with the Son Volt sound. While ex-Uncle Tupelo partner Jeff Tweedy has enjoyed his experimental flings with Wilco, Farrar resolutely ploughs the same furrow of heavily country tinged urban blues. On top of this he continues to sound like a grouchier version of Michael Stipe.
There is no disgrace in this; familiarity doesn't always breed contempt and there's plenty to enjoy and admire in the ten songs on this 30 minute album.
Lost Souls seems a little tired but the raw slide guitar of Sinking Down (with Mississippi Fred McDowell tuning) is a highlight and a powerful riff makes Static another rousing piece.
On the closing track -Threads And Steel - there are echoes of Johnny Cash's American Recordings through the line "there's a man going round taking names".
Less successful is Cairo And Southern, a melancholy dirge of a song in the Nick Drake mould
Although by no means a radical departure, when it comes to this band 'same old same old' serves as a compliment.
Son Volt's website