While Straightaways mined stylistic territory similar to Trace, it wasn't as dynamic or engaging and not as celebrated by the press, and although 1998's Wide Swing Tremolo was a noticeably harder-rocking affair, the erosion of critical support for the group continued. After touring behind Wide Swing Tremolo, Son Volt went on hiatus in 1999, though they refused to call it a breakup. Farrar debuted as a solo artist with the 2001 album Sebastopol, and released two more solo albums in 2003 (Terroir Blues) and 2004 (Stone, Steel & Bright Lights). In 2005, Rhino issued a Son Volt collection, Retrospective: 1995-2000, which lent weight to the belief that the group had called it a day. But Son Volt weren't over, and Farrar revived the nameplate in July 2005 with a new edition of the group. For the album Okemah and the Melody of Riot, recorded in St. Louis and released by the Sony imprint Legacy Recordings, Farrar was joined by drummer Dave Bryson, bassist Andrew Duplantis, and ex-Backsliders guitarist Brad Rice. The Search followed in early 2007, followed by American Central Dust in 2009, the group's first release for the venerable roots music label Rounder Records. American Central Dust also debuted a new Son Volt lineup, with Farrar joined by Chris Masterson on guitar, Mark Spencer on steel guitar and keyboards, and the previous rhythm section of Duplantis and Bryson. Honky Tonk, a sort of homage to the Bakersfield country sound full of pedal steel guitars and twin fiddles, arrived early in 2013.
In 2015, Rhino Records marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Trace with an expanded and remastered edition of the album, including Farrar's original songwriting demos for the album and tracks from a Son Volt concert recorded in New York City in February 1996. Farrar supported the re-release with a solo tour in which he performed the album's songs in full. Farrar reconvened Son Volt in 2016 to record a new album, Notes of Blue. The album, in which the bandmembers indulged their taste for classic blues music, was released by Farrar's Transmit Sound label through a distribution deal with Thirty Tigers. Notes of Blue also saw more personnel changes for Son Volt, featuring Farrar, Spencer (this time on bass, side guitar, and piano), fiddler Gary Hunt, pedal steel player Jason Kardong, and drummer Jacob Edwards. ~ Steve Huey & Mark Deming, Rovi