Jay Farrar's new album Stone, Steel & Bright Lights reveals the continuing evolution of his songwriting and performance style as he outgrows the "alt.country" label.
The album also contains a wonderful performance DVD that is nearly worth the price of the album by itself. Featuring live recordings from the Blue Note club in Columbia, Missouri, Stone, Steel & Bright Lights also has a couple of new songs — "Doesn't Have to Be This Way"and "6 String Belief".
An interesting review on KINGBLIND of Jay Farrar's Stone, Steel & Bright Lights notes:
- "There's a rigid sincerity to his work that refuses to allow him to drift too far from the statements of purpose he so carefully lays down in the studio. "
The album has a couple of terrific covers “Lucifer Sam”, a Syd Barrett song from Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut record, Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The bonus DVD of concert footage shot at Slims in San Francisco in early 2004 is quite enjoyable. It's impressive to see Canyon guitarist Brandon Butler play his guitar with maracas and improvise like a jazz musician.
This is followed up with a great cover of Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane" and the DVD of the performance at Slims in San Francisco with backing band Canyon is incendiary.
In an interview, Farrar commented that Young's 'Like a Hurricane,' served as a common-interest song between him and Canyon.
- "That's a song I haven't really done in my past. It's probably (Young's) most bombastic song. We were looking for a song to close out the set, and that's what we went for.' "
- "I was using two albums that I like, (Neil Young's )Tonight's the Night and (the Beatles') 'Revolver,' as touchstones."
"I don't think in terms of owing the fans something, although you can't just act like what you've done in the past doesn't exist. I just try to find the songs that still mean something to me, that I can maintain a connection to. But most people seem pretty willing to go along with the new stuff."
Farrar's new album has clearly been over shadowed by the critical accalim of his former Uncle Tupelo bandmate Jeff Tweedy's album with Wilco A Ghost is Born.
But certainly the market can handle two great former Uncle Tupelo bandmates album releases.