Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. It's a bracing and welcome return to form for an important artist.
  2. 40
    He's never tried so actively to fuse prescriptive politics into [the] mix, and the move feels suspect. [Aug 2005, p.115]
  3. While Okemah is clearly driven by Farrar's vision, it suitably develops Son Volt's sound, bringing it clearly into the mid-2000s while giving a nod toward the influences of bygone days that have always been a factor in Son Volt's alt-country tendencies.
  4. Farrar's perfectly ramshackle voice still delivers his oblique lyrics, but now it's backed by a tighter, revamped lineup. [15 Jul 2005, p.71]
  5. After a few songs, the formula wears thin -- it's just too plain-spoken and familiar. [10 Jul 2005]
  6. When not so buried in dank sonics, Farrar's familiar songwriting drawl feels more crisp and lively; being able to hear the record's engaging pop hooks is a revelation. On the other hand, this newfound production clarity reveals that Farrar might be running out of ideas.
  7. 60
    By focusing on the temporal, he reduces himself to simple protest music rather than timeless folk. [Aug 2005, p.104]
  8. Farrar has the passion to carry the songs beyond any hackneyed themes. [6 Aug 2005, p.56]
  9. As the album progresses... Farrar's lyrics become increasingly stilted and veiled, reverting to the forced wordplay and disconnected evocations of his most obscure songs. In the past, this tendency toward purple opacity could be excused, but on Okemah it hinders Farrar considerably.
  10. Okemah and the Melody of Riot is an intelligent, aggressive album that acts as a sorely needed kick in the ass to the entire Americana/ genre.
  11. Okemah replaces Farrar's indulgence with a gently rocking back-porch feel. [28 Jul 2005, p.82]
  12. Despite taking few chances thematically or musically, the reincarnated Son Volt delivers a tight, nothing-wasted set.
  13. Okemah is heady stuff, to be sure, but it's also one of the year's best straight-up rock albums.
  14. If the sound that the original Son Volt line-up cultivated began to feel oppressing for Farrar, it’s clear on Okemah And The Melody of Riot that a return in part to that sound has been good for his musical soul.
  15. Even when his overintellectualized lyrics smear into a palette of industrial gray, the guitars provide a strong human heartbeat.
  16. The band's underlying, stubborn seriousness, and nearly Amish unwillingness to change, creates its appeal. [11 Jul 2005]
  17. 60
    For every inspired turn, there's an insubstantial one, while some merely appear sluggish. [Aug 2005, p.96]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. JeffT
    Jan 2, 2006
    "Rock and roll around my head alive a kicking" Jay Farrar writes phrases and lyrics that are both simple and layered with complex meaning. Listen to this album three times and you'll be hooked. Full Review »
  2. RobertS
    Dec 9, 2005
    Great album! Easily Jay's best since Trace. What blows me away as much as this release is that it can be given a negative review!? Rock critics never cease to amaze. Some can give this a bad review and then rave about a collection of bleeps and whistles with lyrics that make absolutely no sense (can you say - Emporer's New Clothes). Omekah is no fraud, its a damn great rock album! Boo Blender, boo MOJO! Full Review »
  3. JorinR
    Nov 26, 2005
    This is the best REM album since Reckoning!