The 20-year nostalgia arc rewards alt-country fans with a glorious expanded (37 more tracks!) reissue of what remains one of the subgenre’s quintessential releases.
In ’95, Jay Farrar formed Son Volt following the dissolution of the critically acclaimed Uncle Tupelo. Featuring original UT drummer Mike Heidorn and brothers Jim and Dave Boquist, the new unit rocketed out of the gate with Trace. The remastered studio LP sparkles; particularly evident are Jim Boquist’s background vocals (check out the closing cover of Ron Wood’s “Mystifies Me”).
Disc 1 also includes eight Farrar demos that reveal the extent to which he envisioned the songs. Alongside the remastered LP, they also remind listeners that this was a band, not a solo vehicle – a fact sometimes lost in light of Farrar’s subsequent complete turnover of the lineup.
Multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist (guitars, fiddle, banjo, lap steel, dobro) and pedal-steel player Eric Heywood are integral to Trace’s grandeur, as the sequencing famously alternates between low-key acoustic numbers and ferocious rockers.
Disc 2 hammers the point home, presenting a live set from February 1996 in which the tight unit tears through Trace, six Uncle Tupelo tracks, and even Del Reeves’ “Looking At The World Through A Windshield.”
This article originally appeared in VG‘s February ’16 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.