Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 20
  2. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. American Central Dust doesn't have the feel of a step into new territory the way Son Volt's past two albums did, but it consolidates old strengths and confirms Jay Farrar is still an artist worth caring about to 20 years after Uncle Tupelo cut their first album.
  2. Listening to American Central Dust ultimately feels a bit too much like working on an assembly line. [Aug 2009, p.114]
  3. Seldom uplifting, American Central Dust still reaffirms Son Volt's pinnacle atop today's American roots rockers.
  4. Son Volt may be playing it too safe on American Central Dust, but the songs are still woven together with a feeling of comfort and familiarity.
  5. As usual, singer and songwriter Jay Farrar has a few things on his mind, and his lyrics have grown more plain-spoken and potent with time.
  6. So while the songs that sizzle on American Central Dust--'Down to the Wire,' 'When the Wheels Don't Move'--are of vintage stock, be prepared to sift through some monotonous meandering to find them.
  7. 54
    This one settles for regrettably generic high-plains fiddle and wistful sighs of pedel-steel guitar. [Summer 2009, p.94]
  8. The album's sound is raw, but "raw," even in the Americana circles that Son Volt travels in, doesn't always equate with primal power. Sometimes it's just undercooked.
  9. 80
    There's a back-to-basics feel on the mid-tempo country rockers, the slow beauties and mournful lap steel, and even on the musically warm, more upbeat, almost Tex-Mex opening song. [Sep 2009, p.92]
  10. The 12 songs verge on inert, and singing is beginning to sound like a painful act for him. His lyrics, however, are inspired.
  11. While American Central Dust falls short of "Trace's" heights, the album showcases Farrar's excellent songwriting, which is comfortingly familiar. It’s also a little monotonous.
  12. Son Volt's label debut, American Central Dust, is some of the sleepiest protest music ever made: Every song saunters by at a slow tempo, Farrar's voice sounds increasingly inexpressive, and John Agnello's production makes everything sound real purdy but lifeless.
  13. On American Central Dust, they just don’t take that earnest country feel as far as it could go.
  14. While frontman Jay Farrar was instrumental in defining the alt-country scene, the problem with Dust is that, in the intervening years since Son Volt first rose to prominence, that scene has been bogged down by countless dreary, soundalike albums and an exhausting self-seriousness.
  15. 70
    The energetic players temper Farrar's grave persona--for all the vintage touches, this is a deceptively funky band, as the sultry 'Down to the Wire' proves.
  16. This is Farrar’s most consistent album in years, in large part because he no longer seems to be straining so much. American Central Dust shows Farrar in his comfort zone, recording songs he knows his fans will like, and not much caring whether his detractors get on board.
  17. There's an easiness and directness to these tunes that was missing the last couple of times out, aided by Joe Henry and Ryan Freeland's no-nonsense mix but owing mainly to Farrar's vivid songwriting.
  18. It’s all a clear throwback, but the starkly countrified vibe underscores the plaintive cast of Mr. Farrar’s lyrics.
  19. 60
    The song themselves are thoughtful, ambling between folk, country and mid-paced roots-rock. [Aug 2009, p.100]
  20. 'Dust And Daylight' showcases Mark Spencer's beautiful pedal steel, while 'Dynamite,' with its doleful accordian, recalls early Springsteen. [Summer 2009, p.74]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. May 10, 2013
    Son Volt's American Central Dust contains some of the best of the country rock genre. Tracks such as No Turning Back and Jukebox of Steel are pure delight. Jay Farrar and company are an American treasure. Full Review »