Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

I’ve heard all of the Wilco albums to date, and I gotta say that for the most part, I like ‘em for what they do. I mean, somebody has to make this kind of music, and these guys are well-suited for the job. And what do they do? They tread that line between soft-rock, country and easy-listening, making the kind of stuff to which your Mom could tap her toes in the dentists’ waiting room, while still letting you feel like you’re getting something your Mom wouldn’t have heard of when you buy it at the mall.

Now hold on, Wilco fans, before you take up your pitchforks and run after me, I know that that sounds like a backhanded compliment, even an insult, but it’s totally true to me. Look, their albums are really good, for the most part. Their lyrics are interesting and insightful and poetry-like and all that good stuff. The songs are professionally played and sound-perfect. Tweedy’s voice cracks appropriately in all the calculated places.

That said, Sky Blue Sky is a rather slow Wilco album, light grooves with the occasional bust-out guitar solo to mess up the even glow, a little twang and some soul basslines mixed in. Think Eagles, Dead, The Band and a little Blue Rodeo too, playing slower songs ‘with feeling.’ I believe those fans who are in-the-know call this stuff alt-country, whatever the hell that means to them.

This would be the perfect record if you were on a road trip and, with the daylight fading, you found yourself tired of the heavier stuff you’d played all afternoon, and you were looking for something to ease you into that night’s motel parking lot. This record would cover those last few miles of the day handily.

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