"Union" (album) Forum Member Opinions

pdg
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:37 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Post by pdg »

When I first listen to an album, it's always the music that grabs me way before the lyrics. Both Honky Tonk and Notes of Blue were very strong melodically, and I loved them straight out of the gates. Union, not so much. As others shared, this is a grower album, and the lyrics definitely make the songs stand out over the melodies. I have come to really enjoy this album. Jay is like a contemporary Guthrie here. Whether you agree with the politics is irrelevant - these lyrics demand pause and reflection and thought. That's what makes this album stand out in 2019 so far for me.

Redsun
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:14 pm
Location: Where the sunset smiles
Contact:

Post by Redsun »

It's a strong folk/americana album with all its political lyrics and beautiful tunes. There are some songs reminds me good old stuffs. For example WRB is quite Medicine Hatish, Union reminds me San Francisco from One Fast Move album. And Reality Winner includes some Meth substances. This doesn't mean JF doing the same thing over and over again. There are some new synthesis. Union album has a balance between new and classical and this sounds really perfect imo. The 99, Symbol and Union are my top 3 songs right now. Can't wait to hear Andrew Duplantis album also...

Gold Rush
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:48 am

Post by Gold Rush »

I gave the record a few close listens last night, and my conclusion is that I like the songs, but I don't love the record. With the sameness of it, it just doesn't work as a record for me. Don't know if that makes sense to the rest of you???

I was really struck by the beauty of Slow Burn last night.

mtruslow
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:41 pm
Location: Towson Maryland

Post by mtruslow »

I'm just too much of a Jay Farrar fan to diss this album. I've really given it a very fair listen and it sure sounds better to me with each passing play. The song I really like the most is "Truth To Power Blues".

Gold Rush
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:48 am

Post by Gold Rush »

It's always been my opinion that Son Volt is at its best when a record has a combination of roots and rockers. (Notes of Blue is a perfect example) I really like some of these songs on Union: Devil May Care, The 99, Rebel Girl... but it's all too much of the same tempo. The record moves at the same pace throughout and I find myself tuning it out when I try to listen to it in full.

I've long been frustrated with the cliche critique that Jay just keeps putting out the same thing over and over again. I've always thought it was bullshit. But...with this record, the cynics have a valid point.

With that said, tickets are bought for this tour, and I'll have a big smile on my face at showtime.

JWB56
Posts: 125
Joined: Wed May 25, 2005 7:09 pm
Location: NJ Highlands

Post by JWB56 »

I've always supported Jay, love Son Volt, his solo offerings and his collaborations with other artists. But this album, which I bought, I'm not feeling it. Really can't stand the political songs, maybe if I agreed with some of them I'd feel differently. Also it's Son Volt, I'm expecting something a little harder edged, maybe save this material for a solo album. Oh well maybe I'll give WST a spin.

Bozeman
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Post by Bozeman »

Tokyo Fan wrote:I wonder if there are any more songs that were recorded and that might see the light of day? I say this because I listened to On Chant and Strum today...and started thinking about all the (very good) songs that weren't included on The Search. I'm almost always a "shorter is better" guy when it comes to album length; but On Chant and Strum breaks the rule. (Not to mention that it corrects the positioning of Slow Hearse in the track list).
Another great example is the EP ThirdShiftGrottoSlack, the outtakes from Sebastopol. Greenwich Time, Station To Station, Kind of Madness and especially Dues should have been part of a full album.

Bozeman
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Post by Bozeman »

Tokyo Fan wrote:I wonder if there are any more songs that were recorded and that might see the light of day? I say this because I listened to On Chant and Strum today...and started thinking about all the (very good) songs that weren't included on The Search. I'm almost always a "shorter is better" guy when it comes to album length; but On Chant and Strum breaks the rule. (Not to mention that it corrects the positioning of Slow Hearse in the track list).
The Search is my favorite SV 2.0 album, and I agree on the quality of the additional songs. Houdini Punches, Waking World and Bicycle Hotel are better than some of the tracks that made the original cut and should have been included. Slow Hearse belongs at the beginning though.

Tokyo Fan
Posts: 1441
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:47 pm

Post by Tokyo Fan »

I wonder if there are any more songs that were recorded and that might see the light of day? I say this because I listened to On Chant and Strum today...and started thinking about all the (very good) songs that weren't included on The Search. I'm almost always a "shorter is better" guy when it comes to album length; but On Chant and Strum breaks the rule. (Not to mention that it corrects the positioning of Slow Hearse in the track list).

Bozeman
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Post by Bozeman »

camaroheadus wrote:so far I have to say this is my least favorite son volt record. I dont hear any of the trademark 5 star jay songs. some are pretty good but they arent resonating with me like usual. I am so sick of politics and can usually overlook them but it doesnt happen here, I listen to music to get away from that shit. it's hard to believe but this will probably be the first Farrar recording I dont buy, makes me sad...
I have to agree that this is my least favorite Son Volt album, but for me still good enough to buy. I have no problem with the songs being political, I was just hoping for some fast, pissed off music. This album actually reminds me a lot of Terroir Blues. Both have stunningly sad and beautiful songs (Dent County & The Symbol) and both are a bit of a slog to get through. Maybe this is the type of album we get when Jay is depressed, and that probably makes sense.

mtruslow
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:41 pm
Location: Towson Maryland

Post by mtruslow »

mtruslow wrote:This album is going to grow on me. Slowly.
Predictably. It did grow on me. It's not really as much of a dirge as I first thought.

Tupelo Son
Posts: 1130
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:43 pm
Location: Georgia
Contact:

Post by Tupelo Son »

Listening as I type this, loving it. SV for sure... and Chris Frame, MVP.

camaroheadus
Posts: 1953
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:41 am
Location: covered by the silt of a billion years

Post by camaroheadus »

so far I have to say this is my least favorite son volt record. I dont hear any of the trademark 5 star jay songs. some are pretty good but they arent resonating with me like usual. I am so sick of politics and can usually overlook them but it doesnt happen here, I listen to music to get away from that shit. it's hard to believe but this will probably be the first Farrar recording I dont buy, makes me sad...

mtruslow
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:41 pm
Location: Towson Maryland

Post by mtruslow »

This album is going to grow on me. Slowly.

turpentim
Posts: 868
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:23 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Post by turpentim »

Got a loooong Lyft ride to the airport, so I figured I’d take some time to chime in here. First off, I can’t get enough of the new record. Been on almost constantly since yesterday morning. Really coherent, a record for people who love records; not just a smattering of songs. Some thoughts, trackwise:

WHILE ROME BURNS — This one is second only to The Symbol for me. An absolutely gorgeous melody and classic Son Volt sound. Sounds like 1995 but for now it sounds like heaven. The perfect opener.

THE 99 / DEVIL MAY CARE — I’ve worn these in pretty good over the last couple of weeks, but they’re both fantastic. The 99 does Neil Young as well as Neil himself, and Chris Frame’s playing is impeccable. Devil May Care is catchy as all hell, a celebration of rock n roll and its poetic jargon. Would fit nicely on any of the three SV 1.0 albums.

BROADSIDES / TRUTH TO POWER BLUES — One thing I love about Jay’s take on the blues is that he almost never tries to modernize it or incorporate massive hooks a la the White Stripes, Black Keys, North Mississippi All-Stars, etc. It’s just raw Delta. Primal stomp. Mississippi mud. Both of these tracks remind me of Gob Iron, but I think both are far better songs than Buzz & Grind. Truth to Power Blues *perfectly* sets the stage for the final three songs.

REALITY WINNER — Big, warm chords and vocals that mount to a powerful crescendo. Methamphetamine meets Left A Slide. I love the crack in Jay’s voice in the chorus around the 4-minute mark — the sound of passion and conviction.

UNION — I’ve begun to listen to this one with different ears since calling it a "plod" lyrically the other day. Lyrically, it’s not my favorite on the record, but it has its own power. It has occurred to me that this one is a dead ringer for the Kerouac album — sounds like ‘San Francisco’ from that record. Much more prosaic than poetic, more conversational than lyrical. And musically/instrumentally, this one just about knocks me over. Sonically speaking, it’s one the most powerful tracks on the record. The Mark Spencer’s acoustic slide is fucking KILLER.

THE REASON — I liked this one more as a single than I do after hearing the rest of the album. If there is an outlier on this record, i.e. one that doesn’t quite seem to mesh with the rest, it’s this one. I like the song, but it sounds too much like the majority of the Honky Tonk record to me, and nothing else here does.

LADY LIBERTY — This sounds like Sebastopol to me, or perhaps the ThirdShiftGrottoSlack EP. A good tune but not among the best. At first I wondered what happened to the rest of the song because it’s SO short. But I sorta like it when taken as an interlude. Helps hold the record together.

HOLDING YOUR OWN — This one flies under the radar, but it’s one of my early favorites. It’s musically reminiscent of Terroir Blues. Might also fit on The Search/On Chant & Strum. I love the melody. And the father-to-child message of strength and wisdom through adversity, despite youth, really speaks to me as the father of two little girls.

REBEL GIRL — Is there anybody in the world better at adapting printed lyrics to music? A beautiful, delicate song. Reminds me of Careless Reckless Love from the New Multitudes project.

SLOW BURN — Another damn-catchy melody and phenomenal writing. Lyrics perfectly capture what it’s like to wake up every day and have to remember that Donald Trump is president.

THE SYMBOL — Oh. My. God. I know it’s awfully soon to make grandiose declarations, but I’ll be got-damned if this isn’t one of the most powerful and poignant songs in Jay’s oeuvre. A fucking career highlight. This could be on Springsteen’s Nebraska or The Ghost of Tom Joad. Writing that will keep the likes of both Bruce and Steve Earle up at night with jealousy, and likely stir them and/or other superstar singer-songwriters to cover it on the live stage. The vocal performance here is exquisite — gruff but delicate, warm and compassionate. And the narration is just heartbreaking. All of it is made all-the-more powerful by the dramatic boom of M. Patterson’s kick drum; the last sound you hear on the record, it’s the perfect touch.

Tim in the ATL

Post Reply