Farrar Releases a Live One

Stone, Steel & Bright Lights (Artemis Records)
Jay Farrar

By Kory Wilcoxson

Jay Farrar has already left his mark on the American music landscape as founding member of both Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt. Farrar continued to exert his timeless influence with two solo releases and now follows those up with Stone, a live album that encompasses his two studio releases and adds two new tracks ("Doesn't Have to Be This Way" and "Greenwich Time").

Farrar's perspective is authentic and honest, reflecting his Midwest upbringing and his life spent on the road. He captures the soul of Americana like Mellencamp captured life in a small town, and with the same passion and insight.

Vocally on these live tracks, Farrar is a dead ringer for Michael Stipe, which helps explain why Farrar's songs share the same sparseness and power of early REM. Farrar is able to fly solo with guitar and harmonica, or beef it up with his backing band that helps him recapture some of the alt-country sound of his previous acts. Farrar stands alone in his ability to combine beautiful, haunting melodies with moody, moving arrangements and Stone is a live masterpiece that puts the emphasis squarely on supremacy of his music.

The CD includes two songs recorded during 2003 Farrar's performance at Headliner's in Louisville. The package also includes a DVD of Farrar's live performance at Slim's in San Francisco.