Boomkat Product Review:
*Special Deluxe Edition : Contains CD of the Sky Blue Sky album and a bonus long-form DVD featuring 8 live performances in Wilco's Loft studio and interviews with the band* Three years after A Ghost Is Born (a real modern masterpiece of a rock album) Wilco return with Sky Blue Sky, a more easy going, even traditional record. Gone are the fifteen minute electronic sound pieces, ushering in a return to the band's early form taking on sophisticated Americana. Of course, it's never going to be quite as straight as Being There or Summerteeth, especially since those days the band have incorporated Glenn Kotche (one of Chicago's finest, most prolific drummers) and Nels Cline, the avant-garde guitarist recently named by Rolling Stone as one of their Top 20 New Guitar Gods. Also marking a break from their prior two albums, Jim O'Rourke is behind neither the mixing nor the production of this record, with the band taking on this recording project themselves. O'Rourke still figures however, as string arranger, occasional percussionist and acoustic guitarist on a handful of tracks. So in the absence of the krautrock influences and electronic textures, what's left of Wilco? Well, in short, timelessly brilliant songwriting and some of the most consistently inventive performances you're likely to hear from any rock band this year. The opening songs, 'Either Way' and 'You Are My Face' are just incredible, heartbreakingly emotive pieces of writing. In addition to this, the standard of musicianship here and throughout the album is simply superb, particularly with regards to the spectacular guitar duels between Cline and Jeff Tweedy. 'Shake It Off' opens with a 'The Wind Cries Mary'-style riff which sets the scene for some classic rock riffing, the like of which you might have previously heard on his Loose Fur side project. It's these old-fashioned rock motifs that dominate Sky Blue Sky. Take 'What Light': it's an uncanny approximation of Bob Dylan and The Band, played out with the utmost authenticity. In keeping with the band's newfound directness, Jeff Tweedy's lyrics are more open then previously - particularly on 'Please Be Patient With Me', one of the most straight-forward Wilco songs you're likely to hear. It's a largely unadorned Tweedy performance with just the lightest of textures from the rest of the band, and proves to be immensely beautiful in its stark simplicity. Putting all these elements together, you're left with an outstanding body of work from one of America's very finest bands. Very highly recommended.