St. Louis-based Son Volt's new release, American Central Dust, is a study in Americana. Tracks like "Dust of Daylight" find their roots in country music with piano, violin and acoustic and steel guitar. "Sultana," the story of an 1865 ship explosion in which nearly 2,000 people were killed, comes from a more folk music sensibility. Sprinkled in are more rock-tinged, up-tempo tunes like "Jukebox of Steel," all of which are colored by Farrar's rich, wistful voice.
Son Volt's Jay Farrar—often credited with pioneering the alt-country movement with his '90s project Uncle Tupelo—grew up listening to folk music, so penning a song like "Sultana" about a 100-plus-year-old riverboat disaster isn't such an odd means of expression. And living in St. Louis, which is so steeped in river history, has some influence as well.
"Your surrounding environment does inform what you ultimately wind up trying to create," Farrar said. "There's quite a few places in St. Louis where, if you look over the river bluffs when the river is low, [you can see] what appears to be old shipwrecks on the sandbars. That was the point of origination for that song, imagining what those shipwrecks could be or what they're all about. That's how I came across the story of the Sultana."
With Cowboy Junkies, Friday, July 24, 7:30 p.m., $29 adv., $32 door. Woodriver Cellars, 3705 Highway 16, 208-286-9463. Tickets at Record Exchange, Boise Co-op or brownpapertickets.com. No coolers or high-back chairs.