Review from the Vault is a new category revisiting past reviews published elsewhere that seem to have disappeared from Google.
The Search, the latest release from roots rockers Son Volt, opens with a minor key mantra with the sole lyrics of “Feels like riding in a slow hearse.” Fair enough. But, at times, this hearse picks up some speed and starts fishtailing around hairpin curves, like on “The Picture,” the album’s brassy (literally) second track. When Farrar sings “We’ll know when we get there, if we’ll find mercy,” you suspect he already knows the answer—and you just aren’t going to like it.
Although the music isn’t all downbeat dirges—there’s some patented Farrar rockers like “Action” and “Automatic Society”—the album’s lyrics are focused on calamities and catastrophes on both the personal and global scale. Pleasingly, the new line-up is beginning to gel more as an actual band than it did on its previous lineup, and there’s near-perfect balance of straight-ahead rock with the more esoteric instrumentation of Farrar’s solo releases. As Farrar mournfully croons on the closing track “Phosphate Skin,” “It can only get better from here, don’t have any fear.”
(Originally published in the Chico News & Review)