Wednesday, May 02, 2007

CD Review - Wilco: Sky Blue Sky

A big album. I've been looking forward to the release of Sky Blue Sky for some years.

Release: May 14 2007

I think I've made up my mind. yes, i think i can now say with some certainty that...

the new Wilco album is great.

Yes, great. It was with some trepidation that I tore open the cellophane wrapper and hit the play button. After two truly wonderful albums in Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, aren't they due a dud? Perhaps, but that's not what they've delivered.

More relaxed, less frantic and comfortable in its own skin, Sky Blue Sky showcases a band who can move from more familiar soaring guitar solos to Uncle Tupelo-era acoustic ballads, and back again without breaking a sweat. Frontman Jeff Tweedy called this "hands down the easiest Wilco album to make" and it's obvious. The songs feel happier, without the frustration and anger of a band falling apart (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) or a crippling drug addiction (A Ghost Is Born). Notably absent is the challenging fuzz and noise from the previous two albums. Sky Blue Sky is much more accessible yet on first listen doesn't sound like much. Like the best relationships this album makes you yearn to listen to it again, and rewards your time by revealing new facets you hadn't noticed before. At first "Impossible Germany" will seem like the greatest song ever written, then "Please Be Patient With Me" will captivate you with its gentle harmonies before you move onto the sticatto lead guitar of "Hate It Here". If you buy Sky Blue Sky, be prepared to listen to nothing else for weeks, this is Wilco at their effervescent peak.

Rating: 4.5/5

Watch Wilco perform live "Side With The Seeds" live

Stream the entire Sky Blue Sky here

Jeff Tweedy talks us through Sky Blue Sky and James Blunt

You Are My Face
It's more of a family tree, but not neccessarily biographical. This song is one of the more conceptual songs on the record. It's trying to reflect a present, past and future in a linear kind of way with the explosive section in the middle that's a lot more kinetic than the droning past and the ambiguous future.

Impossible Germany
This song reminds me of waking up at a certain point in your life, and you ask yourself, 'How did I get here?' Sometimes you're pretty grateful where you ended up. There are a lot of layers to that song since it's been around so long. There are
elements of political refection and historical perspective that I feel I've gotten more interested in as I've gotten older.

Sky Blue Sky
That is probably as direct as I've ever gotten in a song before. It's a very crystallized moment: watching a parade go by in my hometown, and getting blocked from getting across the main drag, preventing me from going home. And at some point, thinking it was a good idea to turn around and not go home.

Side with the Seeds
It's a pretty confusing song. There's such a polarization in all of our lives these days, and there's so much unhappiness. It's a song that's saying, 'If an electron can do it, why can't I?'

Shake it off
That's similar to 'Sky Blue Sky', in that it's about a specific moment in time, a feeling, a reminder. The chorus is pretty direct: this too shall pass.

Please Be Patient with Me
I don't know if there's anything I can add except to point out, again, the title of the song itself.

Hate It Hear
My wife calls this song 'The Liar Song', because I don't know how to use the washing machine.

Leave Me (Like You Found Me)
This one has been around for a long, long time. There's a simple sentiment in the chorus. Though it does become more expansive in the last verse when people are waking up, climbing the trees, and actively participating in their lives suddenly.

This song was on the set list once written out like the spelling of the actor Christopher Walken. It became too hard to shake that spelling.

What Light
Responding to the fact that this song is the only posted on the band's MySpace page, Tweedy says, "I don't know what a single is."

On And On
This song was actually one of the earlier songs that we demo-ed on this record, and over time - we played it once or twice live - I was doubtful about it making the record. At some point it became the closer. It became much more meaningful to me after my mom died last September. There was something that allowed me to finish that song. I really wanted to write a song that my dad could listen to, and find some comfort in, that wasn't a James Blunt song. I was very touched that my father was being soothed in any way by music. It did make me feel like this song was much more personal. I know how to write songs, so I though, maybe I should write one for dad and have him respond to it. My mom died pretty suddenly, playing cards with her friends, which is a pretty awesome way to go. She was 72. My dad and her met when they were 15, and they had not been apart that entire time. That's a pretty major adjustment for a 73-year-old man to make.

1 comment:

Richard said...

cool, I can't wait to get it.