Son Volt, "American Central Dust"
Son Volt explored its ambitious side on 2007's "The Search," but the material on "American Central Dust" finds the Jay Farrar-led outfit downshifting to revisit the more straightforward approach of the alt-rock band's 1995 debut album, "Trace." The simple song structures on "American" allow for emphasis on Farrar's lyrical musings-covering everything from heartland staples like honky-tonks and biker bars on "Roll On" to a real-life maritime disaster on the somber "Sultana." On the intimate piano-backed ballad "Cocaine and Ashes," Farrar sings about Keith Richards snorting his deceased father's remains. Son Volt may be playing it too safe on "American Central Dust," but the songs are still woven together with a feeling of comfort and familiarity.