Sky Blue Sky

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Click for availability and more information Sky Blue Sky, Wilco

Halfway through "Either Way", the first song on Wilco's most recent release, Sky Blue Sky, new guitar slinger (ringer?) Nels Cline, unleashes a delicate, lyrical, yet technically impressive solo. The effect was to keep my attention focused for the balance of the recording as I marveled at Cline's imaginative and tasteful contributions throughout. Given my familiarity with some of his other work, I confess to being somewhat bemused when I heard he had joined Wilco. His trademark skronk seemed like a strange choice to complement the kind of song-craft deployed by leader, Jeff Tweedy. But here we have a different Cline; chameleon-like in his ability to provide varied and arresting accompaniment to Tweedy's idiosyncratic musings. Had I been familiar with Wilco's live CD from 2005, Kicking Television: Live in Chicago, on which Cline also plays before I heard SBS, I probably would have known what to expect. But Cline's guitar artistry is not the only attraction on Wilco's newest. The entire band and especially drummer Glen Kotche, play as though they have a personal investment in setting the appropriate tone for the somewhat obliquely expressed sentiments of the lyrics. Tweedy's singing remains an acquired taste, as he sounds like Jerry Garcia with (slightly) better pitch. But the songs cohere. For the most part, they seem to obey an internal logic in which the disparate ingredients combine to impart heft. One caveat: The album seems front loaded, with the final four songs falling a little short of the mark set by the earlier tunes.

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This page contains a single entry published on September 14, 2007 5:47 PM.

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