Racking Up Plays: “Hearts and Minds” by Son Volt

Jay Farrar was doing the shaggy Americana thing back when the guys in Fleet Foxes were in kindergarten.

These are the posts where I gush about some song that I’ve got a huge crush on at the moment, and you put up with it and listen because you’re a good friend.

“Hearts and Minds,” Son Volt

Returns to form: They’re just so dang comforting. I got the same feeling listening to the lead track of Son Volt’s new album as I did listening to the lead track from Wilco’s most recent release, back in 2011: “Ah, this is the sound of the band from back when I was truly excited about every little thing it did.” (And I know I should stop comparing Son Volt to Wilco and just appreciate each band on its own terms, but the two are forever going to be entwined in my head until hell freezes over and Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar decide to try to cash in on an Uncle Tupelo reunion tour that’s ultimately a lackluster disappointment. Maybe then I can move on.)

ANYWAY, in the case of Son Volt, that means a return to the plaintive, traditionalist country-folk of the band’s 1995 debut, Trace. “Hearts and Minds” is a reeling waltz that simply insists on getting itself played at a barn dance. There’s double fiddle, accordion and pedal steel solos, all accompanied by the simple boom-chuck-chuck of an acoustic guitar and, of course, Farrar’s down-home, haggard-beyond-its-years voice.

I mean, just check out the video, with all its dilapidated heartland factories and rusty railroad bridges, for cryin’ out loud. This is like crack for Americana fans, and its been too long since Farrar has given us the good stuff in such pure form.

[free download available in exchange for an email address at sonvolt.net]

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