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Singer-songwriter Jay Farrar has been one of the standard-bearers of the alt-country genre since 1990, when his band Uncle Tupelo (which also featured Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy) brought Gram Parsons to Gen-Xers who were soon to be burned out on Pearl Jam. Farrar’s following project, Son Volt, continued the ethic, albeit with a vaguely poppier element tossed into the mix. Now, with last month’s release of Sebastopol, Farrar has decided to strike out on his own. And although he’s gone to lengths to make this disc sound different from his previous material—songs are composed in slack keys or alternate tunings—when it comes down to it, Farrar is nevertheless stuck in a midtempo rut. Sincere, brainy, and authentic to a fault—not to mention given to olive-drab clothing and mussed hair—he’s a boring frontman, and his songs are amusing only to those who can figure out whatever the hell it is he’s singing about. (See: “With caution to the wind/And a drive on wedding vow/Take it on to level it out/Smoke beats water anyhow.”) It doesn’t help that Farrar sings as if he’s tired, and his efforts to connect with his audience in a live setting are minimal, with not so much as a “How y’all doing?” between tunes. One supposes that he’s attempting to let his lyrics and melodies speak for him, but that goes only so far. Like four songs. Still, there’s a cult following for Farrar, and you can bet it’ll be out in force when he plays with Anders Parker at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $20. (703) 549-7500. (Buzz McClain)