Having successfully pushed the boundaries of what defines the Wilco sound on their last two LPs, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, respectively, Jeff Tweedy and company return with Sky Blue Sky, a mature album that returns to the more traditional song structures found on the outfits earlier material.
The past six years have seen major stylistic makeovers in both Wilco’s sound as well as the core makeup of the band members themselves. Other than Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt is the only other original member from the band’s post Uncle Tupelo inception. With an evolving/revolving cast of players, various influences and sounds have melded and co-existed with Tweedy’s vision to varying results. Here, on Sky Blue Sky, this latest Wilco incarnation scale things back and give the audince an album free from studio trickery, krautrock, and other embellishments found on their first two 21st century releases. And it works.
Sky Blue Sky feels organic, inhabiting a retro space that avoids pastiche, not unlike the group’s 1996 double-album Being There. Those who appreciated the more straightforward and softer side to A Ghost Is Born will find much to enjoy here, as the album’s steady and confident cadence gives the album a flow its predecessor lacked.