Gob Iron (British slang for a harmonica) is a brand new side project for Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo founder Jay Farrar. Teaming up with his friend (and Varnaline front man) Anders Parker, Farrar has recorded an album of new takes on American folk standards. Also known as the folk process, these are old songs by the likes of Stephen Foster and The Reverend JM Gates which have been given new lyrics or new arrangements in an effort to re-interpret the songs in a fresh way. Recorded over the course of just two days, Death Songs For The Living represents two craftsmen stepping out and taking a chance on some of the music that they hold most dear. Also included is the brand new Farrar original Buzz & Grind.
Gob Iron is the pairing of Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt founder Jay Farrar with Anders Parker of Varnaline. They have updated a range of American folk songs, adapting lyrics, slowing tempos, combining parts of two different numbers, and in general fully celebrating one of the defining characteristics of folk music: that it is kept alive in the guise of whoever is its current vessel, reflecting their character as well as those of their predecessors. A number of tracks on Death Songs for the Living
illustrate this concept of "the folk process." "Silicosis Blues" combines the titular lyric with the melody from another song, "Paul and Silas in Jail." Elsewhere, there are numbers by the Reverend J.M. Gates, Stephen Foster, and the Stanley Brothers. Nine brief instrumentals separate each of the ten songs, the final one a new Farrar original, "Buzz and Grind," which ups the wattage for their ride off into the sunset. --David Greenberger