A Retrospective 1995-2000 (US Release) by Son Volt
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He has one of those voices of his generation, one that's as familiar as a family member, reassuring as a good friend and instantly recognizable whether he's fronting Uncle Tupelo or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The only big miss on this 20-song collection of studio favorites, covers, demos and live recordings is the exclusion of another 20, for as a songwriter Jay Farrar's 1995-2000 output with his second band, Son Volt, a foursome fueled with country despair and garage rock heartache, was as prolific as any of his peers. He has always written about the middlest of America: its highways and grasslands, its all-night radio stations and deserted main streets, and songs like "Drown," "Driving the View" and "Picking Up the Signal" turn the pages with rock and roll vengeance. But Son Volt's and Farrar's magnificence is found in his more fragile and folksy songs, such as "Windfall," "Back Into You're World" and "Creosote," where a cohesive gelling of acoustic and steel, fiddles and harmonica accent his soothing vocal range. --Scott Holter