Something Else! sneak peek: Jay Farrar, Yim Yames take on lost Woody Guthrie material

A dream team of Americana stars including Jay Farrar (Son Volt), Will Johnson (Centro-matic), Anders Parker (Varnaline), and Yim Yames (actually Jim James of My Morning Jacket) have gathered to reinterpret unrecorded lyrics from Woody Guthrie. Preview a track here!

New Multitudes: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie, to be released on Feb. 28 by Rounder, actually sprung from a trip to the Guthrie archives in 2005 as Farrar and Parker were traveling on a press rout for Gob Iron, their traditional folk-themed project. The album’s complete track list, and newly announced March tour dates, are below.

“Even though it all truly began a decade earlier,” Farrar says, in pre-release materials, “the idea stuck because Woody was the one guy both my folks held in the highest regard. He was sacrosanct. I heard Woody way before I ever knew who Bob Dylan was, and if you are going to go back and retrace the roots of your musical inspiration what better way than to try and finish some of his songs?”

Farrar, Johnson and Parker go in depth on the project below, as well …

Latest tracks by New Multitudes

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Son Volt and My Morning Jacket. Click through the titles for complete reviews:

SHOWS I’LL NEVER FORGET: MY MORNING JACKET, MAY 20, 2011: With the evening sun creeping downward into the Gulf, Jim James and company took the stage and opened with something that seemed unfamiliar to my ears. Slow chilling guitar turned to screaming vocals and riffs in “Victory Dance.” I have to admit at the time I didn’t really get it, but after the lead into “Circuital,” I felt this was genuine My Morning Jacket. Both of those opening tunes had not yet been released, as MMJ’s sixth album titled Circuital would come out the following Tuesday. “Circuital” creeps into your ears subtly, with a noticeable bass line — and the first verse is almost lightly hummed by James. But when it breaks, it’s as if the song takes flight and sends the listener soaring through a wormhole.

SON VOLT – AMERICAN CENTRAL DUST (2009): Perhaps best described as a return to the plaintive form of Son Volt’s debut album, this project trades in the interesting though somehow unfulfilling musical experiments of The Search from 2007 for an intimate rusticism. As instantly recognizable characters try to make do with the table scraps of a lost American dream on this Rounder release, amid the fiddles, pedal and lap steels and piano, it’s like seeing a Depression-era black-and-white photo come to life in the digital age. Jay Farrar, singer and songwriter, eases into the middle of his epic lament for the heartland and its values like a dandy lion finding a way through cracks on the state highway. His insouciant singing style often has a kind of lazy brilliance, adding an off-handed depth.

FORGOTTEN SERIES: MY MORNING JACKET – ACOUSTIC CITSUOCA EP (2004) If anything, this small collection of live recordings puts to rest the myth that My Morning Jacket’s enchanting sounds and melodies are a product of drowning reverb over James’ voice. While, of course, the band has used the technique on many of its tracks on past albums, there have been plenty of tunes in the past where James’ incredibly versatile range just made it appear to be tampered with too much. Despite one’s feelings on the band, this amazing acoustic collection in which James’ goes solo on three out of the six tracks has the listener in awe of the Kentucky kid’s falsetto.

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Track listing for New Multitudes
1: Hoping Machine
2: Fly High
3: My Revolutionary Mind
4: VD City
5: Old LA
6: Talking Empty Bed Blues
7: Chorine
8: Careless Reckless Love
9: Angel’s Blues
10: No Fear
11: Changing World
12: New Multitudes

Upcoming tour dates …
Tuesday – March 6 ­- The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA
Wednesday – March 7 ­- Music Box ­– Los Angeles, CA
Friday – March 9 ­- Crystal Ballroom ­– Portland, OR
Saturday – March 10 – Showbox – Seattle, WA
Monday ­ March 12 – The Birchmere – Washington, DC
Tuesday ­ March 13 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday ­ March 14 – Webster Hall – New York, NY
Friday ­ March 16 – Paradise – Boston, MA

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.