Release Date: 05.14.07
Record label: Enhanced
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
by: Jonathan Arber
Wilco‘s last studio album, Ghost is Born, confounded some critics and fans alike, as the band took something of a left turn, delivering spaced out country-meets-Krautrock laced with lyrics that even by Jeff Tweedy’s standards are somewhat obtuse. That it was a difficult time for Tweedy has gone fairly well documented in the music press – addiction, illness and depression were all taking their toll, and so it’s perhaps unsurprising that Ghost is Born, while often brilliant, is several shades darker than anything else in Wilco’s back catalogue. There’s a palpable sense of despair about the album, a few stumbling steps beyond the inebriated, ragged, broken glory of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which first lofted Wilco into the position, perhaps unwillingly, of alt-rock icons.
It will come as a pleasant surprise to those who wanted the old Wilco back that Sky Blue Sky finds Jeff Tweedy and his cohorts retreading familiar ground, in fact it’s the same ground they covered on their first two albums. Melancholy country rock is the order of the day, with gentle acoustics and spidery guitar solos courtesy of recent(ish) addition Nels Cline, and the odd jam session thrown in for good measure.
Lyrically, Tweedy is still exploring familiar themes of sadness and disappointment, although there is a more hopeful edge to tracks such as Leave Me (Like You Found Me), suggesting that he might finally be emerging from under the dark cloud. Perhaps that’s why it emerges as such an enjoyable record, despite representing something of a sideways (if not backwards) step. Yes, it would be nice if they’d kept some of the atmospherics and textures that made Ghost is Born so rewarding on repeated lessons, but Sky Blue Sky is far from a disappointment - despite the fact that it occasionally sounds like Crowded House.