Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky


Wilco
Sky Blue Sky
Nonesuch 2007


Reactor Rating: 7.2 out of 10

Sky Blue Sky is Classic Rock. No question about it.

As the painfully rabid Wilco fan that I am, I awaited eagerly the release of Sky Blue Sky. And to be quite honest, when I first downloaded it in entirety from iTunes, I did not like it that much. Actually, not much at all.

Sure, it had it's peaks with the gentle simplicity of it's opener "Either Way" and in the Television infused guitar work between Nels Cline and Jeff Tweedy on "Impossible Germany." But truth be told, as a whole I did not understand the album. I thought the lyrics were benign and trite (I feared that Wilco had fallen trap to the late career dulness of songs with hokey lessons and moral tales). I wanted more of the same experimental sound that became so vital on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, or the chaotic guitar work on A Ghost is Born. As much as I wanted to, I did not like Sky Blue Sky.

But then it hit me on about the fourth listen through; Sky Blue Sky may just be one of Wilco's finest. It's a modern day classic rock masterpiece; with the aforementioned quality of Television's Marquee Moon, mixed with Steely Dan, Lynyrd Skynard and The Grateful Dead; it is a bedrock of classic rock. It's Wilco saying goodbye to the need to sound-scape and texturize and just be; fully confident in their song-writing abilities. Fully confident in being simple and direct. And maybe, just maybe what I realized is that it is not just a nod to the greats, but a recognition that this is a timelessly classic album too.

-Mark Dougherty

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