Jay Farrar gets funky? Hard to imagine, but it actually happens on ThirdShiftGrottoSlack, an EP of unreleased material the Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo alumnus has released, presumably while he contemplates his next move. On this EP, Farrar's increased funk quotient comes courtesy of producer Tom Rothrock, who adds a good and greasy backbeat to a remix of "Damn Shame," which originally appeared on Farrar's solo debut, Sebastapol; having performed similar duties for R.L. Burnside on the Come on In album, Rothrock knows how to add a groove without getting in the way, and his "Memphis Mix" of "Damn Shame" gives the tune unexpected shake appeal while respecting the bluesy undertow of Farrar's original take. The EP's other four tracks feature Farrar more or less as we've come to know him, though he's in solid form; the stark voice-and-guitar surfaces of "Greenwich Time" suggest the track is a demo, but the song is served well by the simple presentation, while the other three tunes sound like outtakes from Sebastapol, though they're certainly up to that album's level of quality, especially the piano-driven "Station to Station." ThirdShiftGrottoSlack isn't a major work from Jay Farrar, but in many ways that's to its benefit; short and sweet, it doesn't wear out its welcome and suggest Farrar's songs work well in small portions, while the "Damn Shame" remix suggests this guy should get his groove on more often.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming