Honky Tonk is Son Volt's wondrous set of new, dust-flecked tunes evocatively probing the passion and angst of those uniquely American haunts. With a predominantly acoustic sound driven by twin fiddles and pedal steel, Honky Tonk is as country as frontman Jay Farrar has ever ventured. Never mind alt-country — even though Uncle Tupelo essentially started it — this is truer country than anything emanating from corporate Nashville. Farrar's sinewy, arid voice is already one of the most distinctive out there, insinuating itself into every crevice with the relentlessness of the prairie wind. Now he's even better, approaching the great George Jones on "Wild Side," and throughout giving a quiet, ragged intensity to world-weary songs about love and despair, hope and heartache, redemption and decay, tradition and its ultimate meaning. As he ponders enigmatically on "Sea Wall," "Do honky tonk angels still walk this ground?/The answer lies on the unseen side of heaven." Opening will be Colonel Ford, a St. Louis traditional country outfit featuring Dade Farrar on upright bass and vocals and his brother Jay wielding pedal steel. 18+.
Tue., June 4, 7 p.m., 2013