With a solo album near completion, alt.country kingpin Jay Farrar has emerged from exile and mapped out a small U.S. club tour to commence mid-January of next year. Operating without management, Farrar himself plotted the gigs to road test material from his forthcoming album, tentatively titled “Sebastapol.” Accompanying the stoic strummer on tour will be former Blood Oranges guitarist Mark Spencer, who also appeared with Farrar on a recent string of gigs overseas.
Officials at Warner Brothers were unsure as to if the solo album would come out on that label but assured that Son Volt, Farrar’s steady gig since the 1994 dissolution of seminal twangcorests Uncle Tupelo, have not called it quits. It does appear however that Farrar’s one-man venture will delay the release of any new Son Volt material for some time.
Farrar recorded “Sebastapol” with producer John Agnello, who, in addition to mixing Son Volt’s third album, 1998’s Wide Swing Tremelo, has worked with the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Patti Smith and was the engineering mastermind behind the Hooters’ 1985 breakthrough Nervous Night. Among those backing Farrar on the album are ex-Bottle Rocket bassist Tom Ray and drummer Mat Pence, of Texas indie-rockers Centro-Matic.
Sessions took place over the past year in Farrar’s hometown of St. Louis, with some of the material being road tested in August on a brief acoustic tour of the U.K. Among the new songs Farrar debuted for delighted Brits, “Direction,” “Feel Free,” “Damn Shame,” “Outside the Door,” “Barstow” and “Feed Kill.” Other songs that may find their way onto the final mix of the record include, ” I Know Your Gonna Make it Alright,” “Drain Your Eyes,” “Woke Up In The West,” “A Different Kind Of Madness,” “Mad At The World,” “”It’s The Right Time,” “Clear Day Thunder,” “Now I Know Why,” “Raise My Hand,” “It’s Not The End of the World” and “Voodoo Candle.”
Those who’ve heard “Sebastapol” describe it as a substantial leap away from the electric guitar saturated rockers of Son Volt’s previous releases. Farrar stuck to his acoustic for the effort but laced tracks with swirling effects, humming synthesizers and even the odd sitar.
Jay Farrar tour dates:
1/16: Columbia, MO, Blue Note
1/18-19: New York, NY, Bowery Ballroom
1/20: Philadelphia, PA, North Star
1/21: Alexandria, VA, the Birchmere
1/23: Seattle, WA, Showbox
1/24: Portland, OR, Roseland Theater
1/25: San Francisco, CA, Slim’s
1/27: Austin, TX, Mercury Lounge