The legacy of Uncle Tupelo lives on. After leaving the band, Jay Farrar formed Son Volt, and has been cranking out solid midwest rock albums for the last dozen years. Son Volt's fifth album, The Search, takes another step from their last album beyond the alt-country tradition, intertwining newer electric effects and orchestration, giving the album a beautiful, lonely highway experience.
The smooth, but chilling, distance in Farrar's vocals help push Son Volt beyond most of its contemporaries. Similar to the alt-twangs of Neil Young and Eddie Vedder, Farrar's voice passionately soars and harmonized with guitars like on "Action". He shows off his slow side with ease on "Circadian Rhythm". "Slow Hearse" and "Adrenaline and Heresy" are quieter and softer, but both are moving through Farrar's tone and guitar effects enhancing it.
The Search is a cool blend of barstool rock and anthemic folk that shot through a loud, well-aimed cannon. It's a little old school, somewhat new school, and as relevant as ever. Tracks like "The Picture" and "Methamphetamine" have that classic open highway feel that's right in Farrar's wheelhouse. For fourteen tracks, the album weaves through moods and textures like a roadtrip through the northern plains, the area that got Farrar started.
Let's face it, Son Volt is about as essential to the modern alt-country movement as any, regardless of how it was founded. They didn't light the torch, but they carry it for a good, long stretch. The Search is another leg of their run that strongly helps solidify not only the band and its members, but the movement itself.