Son Volt’s New ‘Arkey Blue’ Is Environmentally Focused, With a Hank Williams Nod [Exclusive Premiere]
Son Volt's new album Electro Melodier — out Friday (July 30) — tackles the political divide, love, the passage of time and even the COVID-19 pandemic. "Arkey Blue," in particular, focuses on climate change, and the lasting effects of human life on this planet we call home.
"Some lines from the Pope equating the pandemic to being the earth's way of fighting back wound up in the song," Son Volt founder and frontman Jay Farrar explains. "Then it was, ahh — okay, some Noah's Ark in there, and when the Pope talks like an environmentalist, I can relate."
A driving electric guitar and drums bookend "Arkey Blue," which has, as a whole, a more dreamy melody than listeners might expect from that introduction. It soothes as Farrar sings, "It's alright, the worst will soon be over / Let the rhythm rise like a banner / With more sorrow than anger" — all together, a terrifying combination when you stop to consider the song's content.
Readers can hear "Arkey Blue" below. It's premiering exclusively on The Boot:
The title of "Arkey Blue" has nothing to do with the song's subject; rather, Farrar explains, it was a placeholder that he never got around to replacing. It takes its name from Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar, a Bandera, Texas honky-tonk at which Hank Williams reportedly carved his name into a table.
"Arkey Blue" is one of 14 songs on Electro Melodier, Son Volt's 10th studio album. The alt-country band last released new music in 2019 (Union), and had planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Trace, in 2020; however, when the COVID-19 pandemic kept them, and much of the rest of the world, at home, Farrar turned his focus to the new record.
“I wanted to concentrate on the melodies which got me into music in the first place,” Farrar notes. “I wanted politics to take a back seat this time, but it always seems to find a way back in there.”
Electro Melodier includes both socially conscious songs that reflect the times in which they were written and those focused on long-term relationships — specifically, Farrar's own two-plus-decade marriage. "It was still a rough year," Farrar says, "but as a songwriter, I was able to make the most of it."
In addition to Farrar, Son Volt are keys and steel guitar player Mark Spencer, bassist Andrew Duplantis, guitarist Chris Frame and drummer Mark Patterson. Electro Melodier is available to pre-order and pre-save now.