Known for the unique and strange noises from their past albums, Wilco changed up their style to a more simpler form on one of their more critically acclaimed projects, 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. What I enjoyed about Sky Blue Sky was that Tweedy and co. incorporated old school sounds for a more laid back alternative rock album
While nothing will blow you away on this project, a lot of the music is easy listening and straight forward. Most of the songs remind me of a Bob Dylan album, and Tweedy has this melodic sound that hits you right from the beginning. The album starts out very optimistic on the first track, “Either Way,” where Tweedy sings, “Maybe the sun will shine/maybe the clouds will roll away.” No matter what the band is going through, they will continue to try and send happiness.
“You Are On My Face” sounds even more upbeat and straightforward. It seems like Wilco just ignored all of the people who told them what sound they should make, and went for something more simpler and more aware of the past and present.
Relationship dysfunction seems to be a recurring theme on this project that continues on “Impossible Germany.” The band takes on a bigger issue on this single discussing World War II and the many quarrels between the Axis Powers. This song also starts a string of guitar solos where the instrument has just as much of an impact as the lyrics. “Sky Blue Sky” is one of their more depressing songs on the project, but they take a very sincere look into separation in a relationship. Tweedy shows that he can be vulnerable and optimistic while staying true to himself.
While the lyrics on “Side with the Seed” may seem too simple, Tweedy has a certain level of wit with words like, “Tires type black/where the blacktop cracks/weeds spark through. He’s telling a story by setting a specific scene, which is intelligent in itself.
On “Shake it Off,” Tweedy seems a little more somber again, but there’s a huge guitar solo in the middle that changes the tone up nicely. “Please be Patient With Me” is about the understanding that needs to go into a relationship and Tweedy is once again very real and sincere to all of the fans out there. The way he changes his cadence in his voice on these different tracks is what makes the album so cohesive and easy to listen to.
“Hate it Here” is one of Wilco’s most popular songs ever, and Tweedy talks about what he can do as a man living with his wife such as, cleaning dishes or doing other jobs around the house. It’s almost like a dissection of masculinity in a loving relationship. The hard guitar riff blends nicely with the stern hook as well. “Leave Me (Like You Found Me)” is just a gorgeous folky song that is both melodic and interesting. “Walken” sounds very old school, and after listening to it a couple of times, it sounds a lot like an Eagles song. I find it risky to put catchy song like this at the end of an album, but it works.
“What Light” definitely sounds a little Bob Dylan-like, and the folky vibe I’m getting from it is very beautiful and gorgeous. I’d say it’s one of my favorites from the entire project.
The way Wilco closes out the album is cohesive and intelligent. Tweedy convinces himself over a piano riff that him and some girl will stay together for as long as they live. It’s a bold claim that Tweedy tries to keep as the track goes on. “Let’s Not Get Carried Away” finishes off the theme in a whole different tone where the guitar is a lot more harsh and Tweedy does not hold back at all. The guitar solo on this is actually pretty stunning, and it’s something that was unexpected.
All in all, too many people complained about the simpleness and straightforwardness that this album represented, but in a way, the project was actually quite complex. Wilco discusses relationships in all different manners, and their understanding of past music is quite abundant. Ten years later, we need to respect the album for what it was: an appreciation of different sounds.