Sky Blue Sky
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Sky Blue Sky (2 CD Special Tour Edition / Europe)
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Our product to treat is a regular product. There is not the imitation. From Japan by the surface mail because is sent out, take it until arrival as 7-14 day. Thank you for you seeing it.
Currently regarded as one of the best live bands on the planet, due in no small part to their last live album, Kicking Television, Jeff Tweedy's merry crew have weathered the storms of lost shipmates and new blood to deliver this, their seventh album. All the signs are that calmer waters are ahead. And that's a good thing.
With the addition of Nels Cline and Pat Sansone it's unsurprising that Sky Blue Sky's texture is riddled with the sounds of chiming six strings. Depending on whether you belong to the Wilco-as-experimental-pioneers school or just enjoy a little 70s-style riffage this could be seen as bad or good. Certainly the dual attack of 'Impossible Germany' owes as much to the Allman Brothers as Television or Sonic Youth. Jeff Tweedy's humble deprecation is still here, but lacks the self-flailing quality that made Yankee Hotel Foxtrot such a thrilling yet often uncomfortable ride. Instead a song like 'Please Be Patient With Me' is the work of a man who's done his time in therapy and has emerged both more realistic and able to dwell more easily within his own skin. There's humour aplenty too, especially in the George Jones-meets-slackerdom romp of 'Hate It Here'.
If all this sounds bland and vaguely disappointing, it's not. Too many critics seem to cling to the outmoded idea that to be good you have to be in constant pain. The fact is that Sky Blue Sky is made up of awesomely good songs that most bands could never approach. Who cares what shade of mood inspired them? This is obviously the work of a band at peace with themselves and each other. Cline's ease with which he slips between jazzy exptemporising, pedal steel chimes and slide mayhem (the punningly titled 'Walken') proves that the gigging rite-of-passage (documented on Kicking Television) has resulted in him seamlessly becoming a crucial member of the team. The aforementioned 'Imposssible Germany', along with 'Side With The Seeds' and 'Shake It Off' display a perversely Chicagoan sense of the dynamics of post rock while retaining a kick-ass country feel.
Overall this is Wilco returning to their alt-country playground while not abandoning their ability to surprise and worry at any boundaries that remain. At the heart of Sky Blue Sky is a maturity to recognise that we need each other. The closer 'On And On And On' begs us to remember our mortality, not as a burden, but as a liberating force. Wise words indeed! --Chris Jones
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Sky Blue Sky been painted as too 'nice', too soft rock, but Wilco's moods are too despondent, too bleak to satisfy the real mainstream. Both tight and expansive, many of Sky Blue Sky's tracks unfold with beautifully sparring guitars - their singular gifts for mixing textures undiminished. The fact that the textures have changed - there are fewer Jim O'Rourke-patented spasms of guitar noise - doesn't automatically make the music garden-variety. There is a lighter, jazzier feel with soulful and even Far Eastern accents in places ('Impossible Germany'), but with an economy, precision and inventiveness that persistently catches the ear. Dispensing with an exhaustive track by track guide here I urge undecided buyers to check out streams of 'Side with the Seeds', with its thrilling ascent from bluesy rock to vertiginous post-rock cacophony. Book-ended by the bleak piano-led 'Either Way' and 'On And On And On', Sky Blue Sky's other highlights include the hazy, steel-pedal beauty of the title track, and the simple, lilting ballads 'Please Be Patient With Me' and 'Leave Me (Like You Found Me)', with their weeping, piercingly gorgeous high-end guitar work. Some of the jauntier numbers ('Shake It Off', for example) are more disappointing but overall this feels like an album that has been done some major critical injustice, probably owing to over-anticipation following their mid-decade purple patch. Something that hasn't been lost between Sky Blue Sky and 'A Ghost is Born' though is that odd spaciousness to their songwriting: no other band to my knowledge can be so tight whilst simultaneously making such a puzzling texture out of emptiness. Great stuff.
And fortunately, after the disappointing "A Ghost is Born," Wilco returns with a mellow, more optimistic sound in "Sky Blue Sky." Frankly, Jeff Tweedy sounds more at peace with the world, and he wraps that peace in a back-to-basics country-rock blanket.
"Maybe the sun will shine today/The clouds will blow away/Maybe I won't feel so afraid/I will try to understand either way," Tweedy sings over a folky guitar, a swelling violin and a flickering piano. It sounds like a promise to a loved one, after his stint with addiction: "I will try to understand/Everything has its plan/Either way I'm going to stay right for you..."
He follows it up with a gentle river of mellow, smooth alt-rockers laced with keyboard, stomping rockers, loosely-wound acoustic ballads, drawling electro-country, and combinations of all of the above. And they're all slow-burning, meditative and reflective, right up to the hopeful "What Light" and the delicate piano'n'strings of "On and On and On."
You could call this Jeff Tweedy's "recovery album" -- it's filled with new hope, old fears, repairing relationships with loved ones ("you're gonna need to be patient with me") and reflections on the world. There's something very personal about most of these songs.
And the music has gone back to basics -- rippling acoustic guitar, piano melodies and ripples of retro keyboard, and some blasts of bass and violin. While Wilco doesn't forge any new territory, they do polish up what they have with some lovely harmonies and layers of delicate instrumentation.
Tweedy's slightly rough voice is a pleasant one, registering yearning, sorrow and optimism through the album. The lyrics stumble at times, such as one cringingly awkward intro ("Impossible Germany/Unlikely Japan/Wherever you go/Wherever you land"), but fortunately are fairly solid for the rest of the album ("When the mysteries we believe in/Aren't dreamed enough to be true/Some side with the leaves...")
"Sky Blue Sky" isn't quite Wilco at its best, but it is Wilco in a solid, musically adept place, with a note of optimism that hasn't quite been there before.
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