Jay Farrar announces new Woody Guthrie collaboration

Just when we had been wondering what Jay Farrar was up to, there’s been news: The Son Volt mastermind has a new project, a collaboration on Woody Guthrie songs with Gob Iron mate Anders Parker, Yim Yames in his non-My Morning Jacket persona and Will Johnson of Centro-matic.

While Farrar plans to include some of the new Guthrie songs on a solo-acoustic West Coast tour starting today in Bellingham, Wa., the foursome will debut as a group Jan. 25, 2012, at Celtic Connections in Glasgow.

The album is due Feb. 28 on Rounder to help mark the centennial anniversary of Guthrie’s birth, though there’s no word yet on a title or track list. UPDATE: Rounder announced Jan. 4 that the album is called “New Multitudes.”

There is a little bit of a weirdness factor here, in that Farrar’s ex-Uncle Tupelo mate Jeff Tweedy already recorded two albums of Guthrie songs: the “Mermaid Avenue” volumes that Tweedy’s band Wilco released with Billy Bragg in 1998 and 2000.

All the same, the Guthrie project fits squarely into the Americana framework Farrar has worked in for more than 20 years, from the Carter Family title track to Uncle Tupelo’s debut “No Depression” to collaborating in 2009 with Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard on “One Fast Move or I’m Gone,” an album of songs built around text from Jack Kerouac’s “Big Sur.”

Farrar’s West Coast tour itinerary is here. Here’s the track listing for “New Multitudes”:

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

Photo by Spring Waugh

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