Farrar/Yames/Parker/Johnson: New Multitudes (Universal)

 |   |  1 min read

Farrar/Yames/Parker/Johnson: Chorine
Farrar/Yames/Parker/Johnson: New Multitudes (Universal)

Some context? Woody Guthrie – whose words prompted this album by an alt.country semi-supergroup – died in 1967, around the time Taylor Swift's parents were born.

A model for the young Bob Dylan (now 70) and the folk movement of the early 60s, Guthrie also inspired Joe Strummer (who called himself “Woody” in his pre-Clash) and Springsteen.

About 15 years ago Billy Bragg and Wilco – at the invitation of Guthrie' daughter Nora who oversees the archives – used previously unpublished Guthrie lyrics for the two Mermaid Avenue albums, and others have done similar.

Now Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt), Yim Yames (aka Jim James of My Morning Jacket) and the lesser-known Anders Parker and Will Johnson have taken some Guthrie journal entries/poems for this stand-alone genre-defying album bristling with Dylanesque rock (the fierce VD City) and musical nods to REM (Angel Blues) and the Byrds/Eagles (the breeze-blown Old LA), while also pinning in smart alt.folk ballads (the falling apart Revolutionary Mind), the droning folkadelic title track and an eerily beautiful Chorine.

Although known as social activist, Guthrie's more personal words here ring with optimism (the aching fiddle-coloured Hoping Machine), loneliness (Empty Bed Blues) and courage in the face of death (the gritty singalong No Fear).

Although the line-up of alt.folk/alt.country luminaries might suggest that rather nice and polite Monsters of Folk coalition, this is much more meaty. 

A limited edition comes with a bonus disc of 14 more songs.

Either way, check out this keeper.

Jay Farrar is interviewed here about this album and Woody Guthrie.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free (Spunk)

Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free (Spunk)

When he left country-rockers Drive-By Truckers in 07, songwriter Isbell was damaged by alcohol and a painful separation, but since then has steadily built a platform as a literate, heartfelt... > Read more

Drive By Truckers: Live from Austin, Tx (New West CD/DVD)

Drive By Truckers: Live from Austin, Tx (New West CD/DVD)

You would have thought live albums might have died out shortly after the arrival of MTV when people could finally see the bands whose albums they were hearing. But no, live albums still come --... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE LEGACY OF GUILT: A LIFE OF THOMAS KENDALL by JUDITH BINNEY

THE LEGACY OF GUILT: A LIFE OF THOMAS KENDALL by JUDITH BINNEY

Had 19th-century missionary Thomas Kendall remained in England he may have enjoyed a rewarding, if undramatic, career ministering to a modest parish. He certainly would have had a less demanding... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Courtney Barnett

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Courtney Barnett

She may only have a small but perfectly-shaped body of recorded work behind (two EPs) but Melbourne's Courtney Barnett has been acclaimed far and wide . . . as far as Pitchfork which considered her... > Read more