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Terroir Blues, the second solo album from former Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt leader Jay Farrar. That may sound like a lazy or indulgent way to make a record, or proof of the persistent complaint that he keeps rewriting the same material, but it makes sense in context. On Farrar’s strongest showing since the first Son Volt album in 1995, the songs need a few listens to take root, but hold fast once they do. Farrar has always had a gift for atmospheric music, and sometimes that gift has worked against him. Sebastopol, his 2001 solo debut, felt sketchy and unconnected, but with Terroir Blues, he creates a mood that lasts the length of the album. Maybe working on his first film score, for the independent drama The Slaughter Rule, did the trick, or maybe the times finally caught up with the free-floating dread and guarded hopefulness that’s long been a staple of Farrar’s work. References to gasoline and “21st-century blood” fill out the album-opening “No Rolling Back,” but they’re tempered by a sense of resigned optimism as broad and insistent as the lap steel guitar that fills out the mix. Elsewhere, “Hanging On To You” grounds that feeling in a more personal sentiment, while “California” offers a downright cheery tribute to the Golden State. Sometimes, the suggestion seems to go, the only way to deal with the world is to circle the wagons and sing about the things that matter. Though an occasional break from the slow, sustained pace would be nice, by the end of Terroir Blues, Farrar emerges as a singer and songwriter with a renewed sense of focus, provoked to sing from the heart again.