Rolling Stone (1/25/96, p.41) - Ranked #9 in the 1996 Critics' Poll.
Entertainment Weekly (11/10/95, pp.66-67) - "...Call it hillbilly alchemy: Son Volt turns heartland rust into gold." - Rating: A
Alternative Press (3/01, p.104) - Included in A.P.'s "10 Essential Alt-Country Albums".
Alternative Press (12/95, pp.97-98) - "...Son Volt are, in essence, western balladeers. The difference is Farrar's mentality and restraint, which he lends expertly to simplistic, acoustic-flavored arrangements and classic western instrumentation. TRACE is like sensible shoes: nothing to kick-ass with, but just what you need when you need it."
Musician (11/95, pp.88-90) - "...In a sane universe, Jay Farrar's gang would be rich and famous, thanks to his soulful, toe-tapping songs and sad-sack vocals....Son Volt is a welcome antidote to the new country blahs."
Village Voice (2/20/96) - Ranked #13 in Village Voice's 1995 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
NME (Magazine) (12/9/95, p.38) - 8 (out of 10) - "...the sound of electricity humming through the wires above a back-woods country road....Jay Farrar hears the ragged rage of grunge in Hank Williams...seeks wounded solace in the sweet whine of the pedal steel and the bloody, blistered fingers of the weekend chickenwire thrash..."
Paste (magazine) - "Son Volt's 1995 debut remains a defining document of the '90s alt-country movement, which singer and guitarist Jay Farrar helped spark with his previous band, Uncle Tupelo."
Son Volt: Jay Farrar (vocals, guitar); Dave Boquist (guitar, lap steel guitar, fiddle, banjo, dobro); Jim Boquist (bass, background vocals); Mike Heidorn (drums).
Additional personnel: Eric Heywood (pedal steel guitar); Dan Newton (accordion); Marc Perlman (bass); Craig Krampf (drums).
Recorded at Salmagundi, Northfield, Minnesota in November and December 1994.
Personnel: Jay Farrar (vocals, guitar); Dave Boquist (guitar, lap steel guitar, dobro, banjo, fiddle); Mike Heidorn (drums); Jim Boquist (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Peter Coleman.
Recording information: Emerald Sound Studios, Nashville, TN (11/1994-12/1994); Salmagudi, Northfield, MN (11/1994-12/1994); Sixteenth Avenue Sound, Nashville, TN (11/1994-12/1994).
Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo's final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his specifications. Teaming with UT's original drummer Mike Heidorn, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Boquist, and bassist (and Dave's brother) Jim Boquist, Farrar's new group Son Volt started with the deep, resonant sound of his work with Uncle Tupelo and moved it several steps further, and the band's debut album, 1995's Trace, ultimately displayed his talent to better advantage than any album he made before or since. Sequenced to highlight the dynamic push and pull between fierce rockers like "Route" and "Drown," full of Farrar's Neil Young-styled electric guitar, and quieter and more thoughtful numbers like "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall," Trace honored both sides of Farrar's musical personality, and the muscular but unpretentious attack of his backing band was made to order for these songs. And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar's lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe Trace as Jay Farrar's version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure, and like All Things Must Pass it was a triumph that Farrar would never quite repeat as he created a body of work that was satisfying but never balanced songs, performances, and mood with the easy perfection he achieved here. However, when Trace appeared in 1995, it was hard not to believe Farrar had broken up Uncle Tupelo for all the right reasons, and it's still a powerful, beautifully crafted, and deeply moving set of songs. ~ Mark Deming