The Wilco frontman goes solo by mining evocative new depth from mostly old material. Info/tix
Through his decades fronting Wilco and Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy’s enduring strengths as a songwriter have been knack for self-expression and combining diverse influences. On his first solo record, 2017’s Together At Last, Tweedy tries something both familiar but different: folkifying and stripping down the his songs from Wilco, loosely assembled supergroup Golden Smog, and early trio Loose Furs. Songs like “Ashes Of American Flags” from Wilco’s classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot still resonate with Tweedy’s worn vocals and warm acoustic guitar.
Lyrics like “Why listen to poets when no one gives a fuck” from “Ashes” take on a new, more weary cynicism whereas lines like “I survived, that’s good enough for now” from Sky Blue Sky’s title track now sound exultant rather than cynical. For example, after singing that line, Tweedy then plays the most devastating yet nonchalant guitar solo, picking away slowly like a rural seraph. These moments are scattered across the record, over soon after they begin, but cast many ripples in their wake.
Though these are not always the best versions of these songs—rehashes rarely beats the original—they are more in line with who Tweedy has grown to be as an artist and person. The emotion that comes through on these songs are the result of an artist playing them how he wants to, not necessarily the best way or the most universally appealing way.
In a Pitchfork “Over/Under” video, Tweedy responds to whether giving away music for free was overrated or underrated. He muses, “What’s wrong with honoring the idea that people listening to your music are collaborators with your music by putting it together in their consciousness?” On this record, Tweedy envisions himself as that collaborative listener, and it’s a joy to get to witness an artist in tune and at peace with himself. Expect a real treat in that spirit live.—Henry Solo