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Death Songs for the Living

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iTunes Review

Uncle Tupelo/ Son Volt singer Jay Farrar can’t sing anything without making the situation sound dire. Much like his hero, Townes Van Zandt, the sorrowful passion is built into his downcast twang. So, couple that with traditional American folk songs such as “Death’s Black Train,” “Hard Times” and “Death is Only A Dream” and you’ve got the perfect soundtrack to a funeral party. Recorded in two days as Gob Iron (British slang for harmonica) with fellow country-folk traveler former Varnaline leader Anders Parker, the album features nine folk tunes originally written or performed by the likes of the Reverend JM Gates, Stephen Foster and the Stanley Brothers, updated and modified with new lyrics and arrangements as part of the “folk process” by Farrar. There's also an extra tagged-on electric original (“Buzz and Grind”) plus nine brief acoustic instrumental interludes between tracks. The highlights are many. “Hills of Mexico,” heard from an old Dylan basement tape, and “East Virginia Blues,” learned from a Ramblin’ Jack Elliot record, maintain their transcendent form as the two singers invigorate the timeless melodies with their own sincere and empathetic emotions bubbling to the surface.

Customer Reviews

Best Jay since Anodyne

Unreal...Jay at his best. Although the Anders Parker tunes are pretty cool, Jay rules here....Any fan of Trace, or Unlce Tupelo will dig it!


I wouldn't say it's the best thing since Anodyne (remember that little record 'Trace'), but it's pretty damn good. This record is much more straight ahead than most of what Jay's done lately. The instrumentation is sparse, but dead on. Buy it immediately.

Gob Iron

Great album! I've always been a big Jay fan, but now I'm an Anders fan, too. A nice folk / alt-country sound throughout. Any Uncle Tupelo fans out there....I strongly recommend it.


Formed: 2004

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Gob Iron is a collaboration between two of the more forward-thinking figures in the alt-country movement, Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt founder Jay Farrar, and Anders Parker of Varnaline. With a similar interest in atmospheric guitar-based music and songs that embraces the lesson of folk and country while staking out new sonic territory at the same time, Farrar and Parker would seem to be kindred spirits, and the two men's creative paths first crossed when Parker opened an acoustic tour for Farrar in...
Full Bio