Alt-country pioneers Son Volt are coming to Birmingham. Their new album, Union–released this past March and available on Spotify and Apple Music–balances charged political protest songs about the Trump era with songs emphasizing the power of love and music to transcend even the most marked differences. Facing the myriad issues causing division, they’re looking for something to bring society back together.
With some tracks presenting stark lyrical clarity and others with freewheeling poetic melodicism, the album is stylistically an amalgam of the different styles that have characterized Son Volt’s 25-year career. Sometimes Americana, sometimes alt-country, sometimes redolent of the blues influences characterizing their past two records, the album is still unified under the force of Farrar’s centering songwriting.
Having grown up on the protest music of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, Farrar channels the troubadour tradition of speaking truth to power in a way that makes sense for our own troubled era. Taking influence from Dylan’s song “Hurricane” which attempted to expose the plight of boxer Rubin Carter’s wrongful murder conviction, Union’s “Reality Winner” focuses on the dilemma of an NSA whistleblower who exposed Russian hacking in the 2016 election.
On the other hand, songs like “Devil May Care” and “While Rome Burns” concentrate on the power of music to be a balm in troubled time. Farrar has remarked that the song exemplifies the spirit of the band, an opportunity to cast off their burdens.
Union features long time band members Mark Spencer (piano, organ, acoustic slide, lap steel, backing vocals) Andrew DuPlantis (bass, backing vocals), returning member Chris Frame (guitar), as well as newest member Mark Patterson on drums and percussion.
Come see Son Volt perform at the Saturn on June 23rd with Old Salt Union! the music begins at 8 p.m. Saturn is located at 200 41st Street South, Birmingham, AL 35222.