Search lacks result

By Gus Bode

Son Volt: “The Search”

Release date: March 6, 2007

Legacy Recordings

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www.sonvolt.net

Rating: 2/5 stars

For Son Volt, one line from the title track of “The Search” sums up the entire album – “It’s the search, not the find.”

On the band’s fifth and latest album, a collection of 14 alt-country, mellow, bluesy-pop ballads, Son Volt proves the effort put into the songs is more important than the outcome, as the stories and messages behind the songs are way more interesting than the painstakingly slow songs themselves.

Right away, as Jar Farrar overdramatically blurts out he “feels like driving around in a slow hearse” on the first track, “Slow Hearse,” the melancholy tone of the album is obviously vulnerable. This album isn’t easy to listen to, and while it is a couple seconds under an hour long, Son Volt makes every minute agonizing.

“The Picture,” while being the most upbeat track on the album, sounds much like a cheesy country theme song with horns that don’t quite seem like they belong. Farrar’s voice is throaty and smooth, fitting well with the music’s tone, but that’s not to say it doesn’t sound all out strange, a little Nickelback-ish, even. On songs that have more of a blues influence, such as “Action,” the voice doesn’t blend well, and it’s easier to mock Farrar than it is to take him seriously.

While there were 22 tracks recorded for this album, the store-bought version only includes 14 and a disk with three bonus tracks (different, mildly worse versions of “The Picture,” “Highways And Cigarettes” and “Circadian Rhythm.”) The album drags through each track, getting caught up on emotional obstacles in “Adrenaline And Heresy” and sharing feelings about today’s digital age (though his album would be nothing without it, really.)

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Steel guitars dampen “Highways And Cigarettes” and “Methamphetamine,” quite ironically. Son Volt’s country sound really starts to shine through toward the end. In fact, “The Search” is nothing more than easy-listening, adult contemporary pop: It’s easy to listen to, has little depth except for in the lyrics and grows old too quickly.

The extended version of this album is a waste of money and unless pop music is your best friend, don’t buy this album at all.

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