Farrar’s songs (solo, or in Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt) have always sketched the struggle to find hope and meaning in a world of bleak sterility. Son Volt’s debut album, Trace, seemed to crystallize that feeling, proving what emotional depth a rock band stripped of pretense and in touch with its country roots could reach. Sebastopol, Farrar’s first solo effort, rings as honest as any of his other work. Sonically, however, it’s a distant cousin to the earlier records. Here we find Farrar’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics flowing over throbbing rhythms, lush keyboards and sparkling guitars, as well as the occasional twanging lap steel or slide that lets us know he hasn’t forgotten where it all comes from. Guest musicians include members of Flaming Lips, Superchunk, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and others. This is a rich, interesting record, the only kind Farrar seems to know how to make.