Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Jay Farrar 

Stone, Steel & Bright Lights (Transmit Sound)

Jay Farrar is the gold standard (as his win for Best Singer/Songwriter in this issue's Music Awards attests): a singer-songwriter of the first house, an artist who needs little more than his guitar and your undivided attention to make his point. While this makes Farrar all the more "real" as an artist, it also makes him easy to ignore, to take for granted. We want excitement, gimmickry and intrigue from our heroes, and Farrar admirably refuses all three.

With Stone, Steel & Bright Lights, Farrar has collected live recordings from last year's tour, some performed solo but most aided by the five-piece Canyon. These solo, acoustic songs are faithful to the originals, though the live context reveals little about the songs. Farrar's unflagging stoicism may be part of the package, but it hardly makes him engaging to watch or hear perform live. Things pick up a bit with the addition of Canyon's dreamy, reverberating gauze; on "Make It Alright," Farrar is bolstered by the driving backbeat and is allowed to take flight over the beautiful haze. It's enlightening to hear Farrar work with this adventuresome, spectral quintet, and Canyon's contributions elicit Farrar's finest moments.

Stone, Steel & Bright Lights picks exclusively from Farrar's solo output (two albums and one EP), and while some of his best songs are contained here (the short, satisfying "Greenwich Time" and the rollicking "Damn Shame"), his myth-making work with Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt is left out. One can admire this "don't look back" approach, but it leaves this live album an incomplete picture of Farrar's impressive output. As it stands, Stone, Steel & Bright Lights is preaching to the converted for Farrar fans, though don't be surprised if Canyon gets a boost in sales.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 20, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation