To those who complain about Wilco's new album, Sky Blue Sky, being boring or lacking the sound that made Yankee Hotel Foxtrot so exciting and fresh, I say, in the words of a certain former Tripwire writer, "Zzzzzzzzzz. Wrong." Sky Blue Sky might be a straight ahead soft-rock-country-AM-radio record, but Jeff Tweedy's lyrics and voice can turn even the most average song into a heart achingly beautiful lament. He's got that power. On one of the songs that seems to deal with Tweedy's addiction to pain killers, "Be Patient With Me," he sings, "How can I warn you when my tongue turns to dust/Like we've discussed/It doesn't mean that I don't care/It means I'm partially there." His voice and tone are so honest that it sounds as though Tweedy is whispering an apology into each one of his fans' ears. And hell, I believe him.
The whole record sounds a little like mid-'70s Jackson Browne to me, which is funny because lead-off track, "Either Way," starts off sounding like Nico's version of a Jackson Browne song, "These Days." Actually, I don't know if that's funny but it's cool that Wilco made a record that sounds like a certain artist and different versions of that artist's songs. A lot of the tracks point to A Ghost Is Born more so than any other Wilco record. "Impossible Germany" sounds like "Theologians" and "You Are My Face" has a tamed version of the jam in "At Least That's What You Said." "Walken" has a playful "Martha, My Dear" piano line that makes it one of my favorite songs on the record. Even when Jeff Tweedy is trying to be playful, he comes across as a morose guy trying to be playful.
Sky Blue Sky isn't Wilco's best album but it's still got the lyrics, sound, and songwriting that make it just as good as anything they've ever put out.
From the band's Myspace page, a song that has been out for a while: "What Light" MP3