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Trace

4.7 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 19, 1995
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Trace is obsessed with time. "Can you deny there's nothing greater ... than the traveling hands of time?" asks frontman Jay Farrar early on, and song to song, he deliberates time's tyranny. Farrar's voice always sounds beaten but never quite broken here, and when on the impossibly catchy "Windfall" he wishes "may the wind take your troubles away," it feels like nothing short of a blessing. Trace is alternative country's most perfect moment: the Uncle Tupelo-ish electric crunch rocks for something better, even as its twangy steel and fiddle never forget the very country fact that time will beat us all. --David Cantwell
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 19, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Off Roster
  • ASIN: B000002N1V
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,823 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
From the ashes of Uncle Tupelo we've been blessed with Son Volt! This is one of the best Americana albums I've ever heard. I always preferred the Jay Farrar-penned Uncle Tupelo songs, so Trace is a slice of alt/country heaven. Trace is also easily the best of the three Son Volt releases.
My favorite song here is the melancholy Tear-Stained Eye...beautiful! Steve Earle fans might recognize the opening track, Windfall. He was covering it every night on the El Corazon tour. Fararrar wrote every song on Trace except for Mystifies Me, which was written by Ron Wood(Rolling Stones/Faces). There really isn't a weak song on Trace. It is a seamless trip through loud distortion, pedal steels, and heartache ballads. Jay Farrar is my generation's Neil Young...and this is the best thing he's been involved with since Tupelo's No Depression.
If you dig Green On Red, Neil Young, the spirit of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle or intelligent, emotional masterpieces in general...then you need look no further. Trace is a twilight ride in cool weather with the windows down. It's the musical equivalent of I-10.
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Format: Audio CD
This album was quite a bit Left-field for me when I got it. I dug Johnny Cash a little bit, and some of the old school country dudes, but I was essentially an indie rock/ avante garde jazz kinda guy. But Trace rocked me. I would listen to it on rainy days commuting to school in my car, because it just felt so right. It became very private music for me, as I didn't want my friends knowing I was into something so "country". But I eventually began to see how this music was far more honestly populist than Rage Against the Machine or REM or Ben Harper or whatever else most college kids were digging. Son Volt just didn't really put on airs about being real; they were real. So eventually I got into Uncle Tupelo and Wilco as well as Jay's solo work, but this is the best of the bunch by my reckoning. Great songs, great singing, just really artistically sound. And excellent for rainy day driving. Actually it's raining right now. Bye!
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Format: Audio CD
1994. Radio was suddenly, briefly, free of sound-alikes. Pearl Jam and Blues Traveler and Son Volt were played side by side. Any band might emerge as the Next Big Thing.
Jay Farrar had written one of the most brilliant rock singles of the decade, "Drown," and it was everywhere, utterly out of place and perfectly beautiful amidst the grunge sludge and the epic jam band singles of the moment. A three-minute promise. A raw blend of country, punk, and existential loneliness: "Living right is easy; What goes wrong, you're causing it."
On the plains, a hundred thousand young men filled with sunny-day angst, a sorrow neither parallel nor at odds with Seattle's rain-induced joylessness, heard for the first time their voice, their cry, their raging against the shrinking of the world and its possibilities.
Here was something different from John Mellencamp, a sound come off the prairie that spoke for those of a new generation whose entire existence had in the previous decade been reduced by record executives and money-minded producers to a strummed acoustic guitar and some jaunty fiddle solos spooled onto tape and then off again over the FM airwaves.
This was a deeper song resounding over the wide, flat middle of the country. A promise that simultaneously summarized all that had come before - Johhny Cash, Chuck Berry, Gram Parsons, Jason and the Scorchers, the Clash, the Replacements, and even Nirvana - and at the same time looked toward a horizon falling ever away. Possibility. Truth on the radio. Places unnoticed, unspoken of, perhaps even unseen. Stories untold. Lives a person might recognize.
It's hard to imagine that moment if you were not there.
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Format: Audio CD
Son Volt, a band as cool and enigmatic as their name suggests, have given us with their debut album just what one would have expected them to. Assuming, that is, one were aware of the musical lineage from which the band was born. Their previous incarnation, the well-liked Uncle Tupelo, spent its formative years cultivating the now not-so-indie Country/Rock sound, which began gaining popularity in the early 90s. One wouldn't get much argument though in suggesting that Trace is the genre's most impressive work to date. Jay Farrar, the group's core member, could have easily gotten away with simply putting his name on the album cover - he is as much the group himself as a Neil Young or a Lyle Lovett, other artist's who depend heavily on the contributions of their bandmates. He can in effect do it all. Singing, playing guitar and harmonica, songwriting - all seem to come quite easily to the somewhat withdrawn frontman. In fact, having seen them perform live, I can tell you that being the center of attention seems to be the one part of the job that Farrar isn't too comfortable with. So he's no Sting, big deal. Take nothing away from the rest of the band, however. From Uncle Tupelo, Farrar took one lone member, drummer Mike Heidorn. Very solid on the skins, Heidorn does well to keep his playing simple, just as these subtly powerful songs require. He shows us very occasionaly that he could do a lot more (on "Drown" and "Loose String", most notably), but dutifully plays his part as needed. The rest of the quartet is comprised of a pair of brothers, Jim and Dave Boquist ( musical origins unknown to this reviewer), who are superb musicians themselves.Read more ›
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