There's something untoward about Jay Farrar adopting Wilco's different-members-same-name routine for Son Volt. Yet if it's the lineup shuffle that shook him out of the rut that kept him trying to remake Trace over and over again, then perhaps the progress shown on The Search justifies the means. Farrar is still the man in charge, and you can hear echoes of Windfall and Tear Stained Eye at various points, but there are some encouraging developments in his willingness to stretch out a bit more vocally, use different keys, vary the instrumentation (piano!) and experiment with less predictable progressions and arrangements. Alt-country fans may be shocked to hear that one song, The Picture, even employs riffing horns, to great success. Not everything works as well on The Search, so it comes off sounding like a transitional recording, but with Son Volt any change is welcome.