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Trace (Expanded) [Remastered]

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Album Review

Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo's final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his specifications. Teaming with UT's original drummer Mike Heidorn, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist, and bassist (and Dave's brother) Jim Boquist, Farrar's new group Son Volt started with the deep, resonant sound of his work with Uncle Tupelo and moved it several steps further, and the band's debut album, 1995's Trace, ultimately displayed his talent to better advantage than any album he made before or since. Sequenced to highlight the dynamic push and pull between fierce rockers like "Route" and "Drown," full of Farrar's Neil Young-styled electric guitar, and quieter and more thoughtful numbers like "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall," Trace honored both sides of Farrar's musical personality, and the muscular but unpretentious attack of his backing band was made to order for these songs. And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar's lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe Trace as Jay Farrar's version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure, and like All Things Must Pass it was a triumph that Farrar would never quite repeat as he created a body of work that was satisfying but never balanced songs, performances, and mood with the easy perfection he achieved here. However, when Trace appeared in 1995, it was hard not to believe Farrar had broken up Uncle Tupelo for all the right reasons, and it's still a powerful, beautifully crafted, and deeply moving set of songs. [In 2015, Rhino Records marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Trace by bringing out an expanded and remastered deluxe edition of the album. In addition to Trace's original 11 songs sounding rich and clear, the set also includes Farrar's original four-track demos for eight of the album's songs, and though they generally sound like rough run-throughs, the demos make clear Farrar knew just how he wanted the guitars to mesh on these tunes from the very beginning. And a second disc features a cracking live show Son Volt played at New York City's Bottom Line in February 1996; the band is furiously tight and on point, and if Farrar's shyness on-stage is apparent in his minimal between-song chatter, his guitar is as confident and eloquent as you please. While the demos are fine but non-essential, the live disc makes this deluxe edition of Trace a must for anyone who loves this album or this band.]

Customer Reviews

The best stuff out there

Does it get any better than Son Volt's "Trace?" No. It does not.

Greatest Son Volt album!

Trace is no doubt the best Son Volt album! This remastered album with demos and live songs is a complete joy! Awesome to have Uncle Tupelo songs on here too!

Jay Farrar's Masterpiece!

This is such a great album. Easily the best alt country ever and the best music to come from Uncle Tupelo. Cannot wait to get the cd! Download of this is not enough!


Formed: 1994 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Led by vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Jay Farrar, Son Volt became one of the leading bands in the alternative country community, attracting critical praise and an audience that was loyal if not always large. Jay Farrar first made an impression on music fans as the co-founder, with Jeff Tweedy, of seminal alt-country group Uncle Tupelo. After touring in support of their 1993 masterpiece Anodyne, Uncle Tupelo split up over long-simmering creative differences between Farrar and Tweedy. Tweedy recruited...
Full Bio
Trace (Expanded) [Remastered], Son Volt
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