Editors’ Notes To his credit, Son Volt leader Jay Farrar never tries to replicate the be-bop-based inflections of author Jack Kerouac’s literary muscle. With Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard trading vocals, co-writes and authoring the title track, Farrar puts and paraphrases the Beat Generation writer’s words from his 1962 novel Big Sur to music that is pure America, Western division. Kerouac’s novel chronicles the author’s mental breakdown, his growing alcoholism, his writerly attempt to right his demons amongst the dramatic environs of Big Sur, California. As Kerouac found beauty and despair at poet Lawerence Ferlinghetti’s cabin, Farrar finds a loping, end of the continent sadness with chords and melodies that sound like one of Farrar’s own doomed solo albums. Gibbard adds an unusual youthful spark to “California Zephyr,” a kick of upbeat country-pop for “All In One” and “These Roads Don’t Move,” while Farrar is the fatalist, breathing heavy throughout “Big Sur,” the blues-funded “Final Horrors” and the simple acoustic plea of “San Francisco.”

SONG
California Zephyr
1
2:23
 
Low Life Kingdom
2
3:20
 
Williamine
3
3:59
 
All In One
4
2:07
 
Breathe Our Iodine
5
2:57
 
These Roads Don't Move
6
3:05
 
Big Sur
7
3:24
 
One Fast Move or I'm Gone
8
4:15
 
Final Horrors
9
2:38
 
Sea Engines
10
3:29
 
The Void
11
2:58
 
San Francisco
12
3:58
 

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